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Court rejects appeal and maintains ban on Facebook and Instagram in Russia

Court rejects appeal and maintains ban on Facebook and Instagram in Russia

A Moscow court on Monday rejected tech giant Meta’s appeal against the decision to declare the company an “extremist organization” and to ban the social networks Facebook and Instagram in Russia.

“The appeal was dismissed. The decision of the Tverskoi court of March 21 remains unchanged,” said judge Alexandr Ponomariov, quoted by Russian news agency Interfax.

The first-instance decision banned the social networks Facebook and Instagram, managed by Meta, in Russia after the Attorney General’s Office accused the tech giant of carrying out “extremist activities”.

The sentence does not extend to the WhatsApp messaging service, also managed by Meta, because this application does not disclose information publicly.

The Attorney General called for a ban on Meta’s activities in Russia after the company temporarily lifted the ban on users from several countries to publish information in which they called for violent actions against Russian citizens, after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement, company spokesman Andy Stone explained that the exceptions were temporarily allowed due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine if the posts did not include death threats against Russian civilians.

However, Meta allowed messages calling for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, which were issued in countries such as Ukraine, Poland and Russia itself.

In the context of the conflict in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin on March 4 enacted a law that punishes with severe fines and up to 15 years in prison the dissemination of “false information” about the Russian army and news with requests for sanctions against the country.

For example, all media are prohibited from using the words “war”, “invasion” or “aggression” to refer to the “special military operation” taking place in Ukraine, according to the Kremlin.

In the early hours of February 24, Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine that has already caused more than 15 million people to flee their homes – more than eight million internally displaced people and more than 7.7 million to neighboring countries – , according to the latest UN data, which ranks this refugee crisis as the worst in Europe since the Second World War (1939-1945).

Also according to the United Nations, around 15 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Ukraine.

The Russian invasion – justified by Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security – was condemned by the generality of the international community, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing sanctions that affect virtually every sector, from banking to sport.

The UN confirmed that 4,569 civilians died and 5,691 were wounded in the war, which today entered its 118th day, stressing that the real numbers could be much higher and will only be known when there is access to fenced areas or under intense fighting.


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