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Google Ban in Crimea Prompts Companies to Switch to Russian Services

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Crimean internet users are turning to Russian internet service companies following Google's announcement that it would make its Apps inaccessible on the peninsula in accordance with the latest round of US sanctions.

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MOSCOW, January 25 (Sputnik) — Google's announcement to clients in Crimea that the company's services would no longer be accessible after January 31 has prompted local business owners to switch to alternatives, including the popular Russian internet company and search engine Yandex, Rossiyskaya Gazeta has reported.

Google announced this week that its Google Apps services would no longer available to Crimean-registered accounts. In a letter written to users, the company noted that "we are obliged to comply with the recently adopted international sanctions, and users will not be able to access Google Apps from inside Crimea from January 31, 2015. Since access to Google for accounts located in Crimea will be suspended, we strongly recommend that you export your data prior to January 31."

The announcement follows news from earlier in the week that Google AdSense would block Crimean customers' accounts beginning January 23.

As a result of the company's decision, Crimean business owners have noted their intention to switch to other Russian internet firms, including Yandex and Mail.ru. For instance, the director of the Yalta-based interior design firm Bell'Arte told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that "we will be transferring our client base to Yandex and will be using their services [in future]."

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Yandex is Russia's largest internet search engine on the Runet (Russian-language internet), and is estimated to account for over 60 percent of all searches in Russia. Like Google, in addition to the search service, the company also has an extensive range of other products, including mail, an e-commerce platform, maps, news, video, and more.

Earlier, US companies PayPal, Apple, Visa and MasterCard also announced their intentions to join in on the newest round of sanctions, announced last December. The sanctions have demanded that US companies stop providing a range of products and services to Crimea by February 1, 2015.

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