Russian Search Engine Yandex Faces Treason Charges In Ukraine

Yandex has reportedly come under "suspicion" of leaking personal information about Ukrainians to the Russian government.

The search engine was one company among several that were blacklisted by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s decree on May 16, which imposed sanctions on some Russian media outlets and IT companies.

Russian sites Yandex, the Mail.Ru group and social networking sites VKontakte and Odnoklassniki -- along with TV channels RBC, TV Tsentr, VGTRK, NTV Plus and Zvezda, as well as Internet security companies Dr. Web and Kaspersky Lab -- were among those on the list.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) accused Russia's largest and most successful search engine that it "illegally gathered, stored and handed over to Russia personal information about Ukrainian citizens, such as names, occupation, lifestyle, address, sources of income, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and accounts on social networking sites," reports Reuters, citing the SBU press service.

Searches of the Yandex Kiev and Odessa offices on "charges of state treason" found equipment and documents that raise suspicion. SBU claimed Yandex management was particularly interested in information about state and law enforcement officers.

Poroshenko's May 16 post on VK in Russian (translated into English) explains Russia's recent intervention in the election in France. The post goes on to say that it is time to “do things differently and more strongly." Poroshenko wrote that all official pages of the President in these services will be closed. "I urge all fellow citizens to immediately leave from Russian servers for security reasons," he wrote.

Poroshenko also wrote that Ukrainian ISPs should stop providing access to "facebook," "Classmates," "Yandex" and other Russian services, but points to other social networks such as Facebook where he posts messages.

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