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Russia’s Yandex in Ukraine accused of treason, offices searched

May 29, 2017

Kiev security services on Monday said they were conducting searches in the Ukrainian offices of the popular Russian internet company Yandex as part of a treason probe.

“The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) is conducting searches in the offices of the subsidiary of the Russian company Yandex in Kiev and Odessa”, SBU spokeswoman Olena Gitlyanska wrote on her Facebook page.

Gitlyanska specified that the search is part of a criminal probe into “state treason”, though without specifying what Yandex Ukraine’s alleged role is in the probe.

The company’s press service told Russian news agency Tass that they have no information about the reasons of SBU actions.

“Lawyers are already on their way to our offices”, Yandex said, adding that the company is ready to “provide the necessary information.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP that “there is not enough information to understand what is going on – are these investigative actions or an audit”.

The move comes after Ukraine blocked Russia’s most popular social media networks and the Yandex search engine earlier this month in response to the Kremlin’s alleged backing of a three-year separatist war in the east.

Peskov had called Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s decision “another manifestation of unfriendly, short-sighted policy toward Russia”.

The ban remains in effect for three years.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.