February 28 — March 6 2015
ICANN to delete international domains in Crimea
ICANN will remove international domain names registered in Crimea. ICANN asked Crimeans to transfer their domains to other registrars by March 15th 2015 as sanctions are imposed through domain registrars such as GoDaddy. Earlier in February 2015, Julia Elanskaya, Deputy Director of Department on International Collaboration of Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications, made an official statement on 52nd meeting of ICANN. She expressed the discontent with the recent decision of American registrar, cancelling domains registered on the peninsula. International domains include .com, .net, .org, and .info. The Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications opposed the decision to impose sanctions against Russia in the ICT sector. It also expressed an opinion that such sanctions violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as they deprive internet users from their right to receive and disseminate information.
Blackberry is struggling in Russia
The company’s partners in Russia, MTS and Vimpelcom, will no longer sell Blackberry smartphones to corporate clients. MTS suspended sales of Blackberry corporate services but still connects individuals to Blackberry Internet Services. Vimpelcom press-secretary Anna Aybasheva said that the operator will suspend Blackberry Enterprise Services (BES) as Blackberry announced to its partners that it plans to restructure the company’s business development in Russia. Aybasheva also said that significant currency fluctuations and economic situation in Russia affect Vimpelcom’s foreign partners. She did not comment on Blackberry’s plans. Blackberry struggled with ban of its smartphones in Russia as the company refused to disclose its encryption codes to Russian law enforcement agencies. The company started operating in Russia only in 2008 and is still experiencing issues with the import of its products to Russia.
Belarus will block anonymous digital wallets
Starting March 1st 2015, authorities will ban anonymous digital wallets in Belarus. According to the decree adopted by the President Lukashenko on December 28th 2015, all digital wallet owners must use their real names and addresses. This is in response to Decree No. 6 “Concerning prompt measures to counteract the illegal drug trade.” Holders of digital wallets in Belarus (Paypal, Webmoney, Yandex Money and other digital payment systems) will no longer enjoy anonymity. Electronic wallets’ holders must undergo an identification process using their passport details and confirm their identity in a bank. E-wallet holders can go through the identification process after March 1st 2015 but they will not be able to use digital wallets until they are personalized.
Azerbaijan verifies mobile operators
Azerbaijan is preparing the second stage of a quality check of its mobile operators’ services. The Ministry of Communications and High Technologies will examine the quality of voice and data transmission services over a period of two months of three Azerbaijani operators: Bakcell, Azercell and Azerfon. The monitoring will cover the central regions and the capital Baku. During the first check up, the Ministry discovered serious voice and data transmission quality defects leading to a second, more detailed, analysis. The Ministry noted that in the future it will conduct such tests on a regular basis,emphasizing the recent trend to support and develop the country’s tech and innovation sectors.
Armentel seeks justice
On March 2nd 2015, Belarusian authorities extradited the former Vice-President of Technical Operations of Velcom, Vladimir Satchkov, to Armenia. Armenian authorities charge Mr. Satchkov with creating a scheme which allowed him to redirect Armentel’s international traffic and steal the proceeds from it. Mr. Satchkov was born in Belarus and worked for major operators like Vimpelcom, then Armentel and since his return to Belarus in 2013 he has worked for Velcom. The National Security Service of Armenia brought criminal charges against Mr. Satchkov. Armentel claims that the scheme created by Mr. Satchkov in cooperation with other Armentel employees caused $3.64 million of lost profits and $1.8 million in unpaid taxes.
Russia to impose additional taxes on Google and Apple
On March 6th 2015, the Administration of the President of Russia discussed the possibility of imposing additional taxes on foreign ICT companies such as Google and Apple. The reason for this is a recent conflict between Google and the Russian search engine Yandex. In its complaint to the Federal Antimonopoly Service, Yandex claims that Google is abusing its dominant position on the market. Yandex noted that Google prohibited re-installation of Yandex services on its partners mobile devices Fly, Explay and Prestigio. In 2013 Google paid 468.3 million roubles while Yandex paid approximately 7 times more. In 2013 Yandex paid around 3.2 billion roubles in taxes. The Russian State Duma will examine the issue of taxation of foreign companies present on the Russian market by the end of March 2015.