U.S. moves to facilitate social media in Crimea

Reuters News
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Posted: May 22, 2015 1:13 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday authorized American businesses and individuals to facilitate personal communications over the Internet like social media, instant messaging and photo sharing in Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine last year.

The department's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced it had issued a general license allowing for the exportation of such services and software to people in Crimea.

A department spokesperson, who asked not to be named, said, "The general license allows personal Internet-based communications – such as social networking, instant messaging, and emails – and certain software necessary to enable it, between the United States and U.S. persons and Crimea."

Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and numerous other online platforms were covered by the action.

"The key stipulation here is that the services must be widely accessible, and available at no cost," the spokesperson said.

Ties between Washington and Moscow have deteriorated since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in March 2014 and backed pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. Moscow accuses Washington of orchestrating last year's overthrow of a Ukrainian president who was supported by Russia.

(Reporting by Washington newsroom)