Ukraine expanded its sanctions to popular Russian media outlets and IT companies on Tuesday, sparking a new round of bitter wrangling between Moscow and pro-West Kiev, Xinhua news reported.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree to blacklist nearly a dozen Russian TV channels and news websites and more than 50 IT companies, according to the presidential press service.
Russian social media networks Vkontakte (the Russian equivalent of Facebook) and Odnoklassniki were banned. The two networks account for 53 percent and 34 percent of Ukraine’s daily Internet audience respectively.
The blacklist also includes Russia’s largest search engine Yandex, anti-virus company Kaspersky Lab and Mail.ru service.
The sanctions will be in place between one year and three years depending on the company.
It was the first time Kiev restricted popular Russian-language Internet services in Ukraine, which has abroad historical and cultural connections with Russia.
Also on Tuesday, the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill to introduce punishment for the making and wearing of Saint George’s Ribbon, which is widely seen as a symbol of the Russian military.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry called the Ukrainian sanctions a “frank and impudent violation of generally accepted international norms and obligations.”
Kiev has so far imposed sanctions against 468 companies and 1,228 individuals, which are mostly Russian, over their alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Relations between Kiev and Moscow have soured since 2014 when Crimea rejoined Russia following a referendum, but Ukraine said the peninsula was illegally annexed by Russia and remains a Ukrainian territory.