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MWC 2022: Ukrainian protesters call for Russian tech boycott

The protestors are urging AWS to “shut down” servers being used by Russian entities

Group of Ukrainian protesters outside MWC, 2022

Ukrainian protesters have descended on Mobile World Congress (MWC) to call for a boycott of Russian technology

Brandishing the Ukrainian flag and signs calling for “no tech for aggressor”, the group described themselves as Ukrainian citizens heavily concerned about the mounting death toll of the Russian invasion. An estimated 352 Ukrainians, including 14 children, had been killed since Thursday, according to Ukraine’s health ministry.

The protestors, who gathered outside Barcelona's Fira Gran Via, likened paying for a Kaspersky subscription to sponsoring terrorism and also called for Amazon Web Services (AWS) to “shut down” servers used by Russian entities.

“Our goal here is to ask technological communities all over the world to block Russia, to cut off their technology for Russia,” one of the protesters, called Victoria, told IT Pro.

“We want them on one hand not to buy Russian products, and on the other hand, to ban Russia from accessing their product. For example, we are addressing Amazon and if they cut down [the servers for] Russia, it will have a huge impact. We are asking for support,” she added.

AWS dominates the Russian cloud computing market with a 40% share, significantly outnumbering the country’s own cloud service providers such as Yandex and Mail.ru.

According to Victoria, a boycott could contribute significantly to the safety and morale of the Ukrainian people defending their country. She also addressed the contrast between the experiences of this year’s MWC attendees and the people of Ukraine’s second-biggest city Kharkiv, which is under heavy missile attack from Russian forces.

Ukrainian protesters slogans, including "no tech for aggressor", MWC22

Sabina Weston/IT Pro

“This would be a huge help because right now, while we are having this technological conference and people are talking about tech right now, at the very same moment Putin is launching missiles on one of the biggest cities in Ukraine. People are dying right now,” she said.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has a looming presence over this year’s MWC, being mentioned in private and during keynote speeches alike, including Qualcomm’s Monday press conference.

In a statement to IT Pro, Kaspersky denied having "ties to any government":

"We are proud to collaborate with the authorities of many countries as well as international law enforcement agencies, including INTERPOL and Europol, in fighting cybercrime. War isn’t good for anyone. We believe that peaceful dialogue is the only possible instrument for resolving conflicts and hope it will lead to a cessation of hostilities," the company said on Wednesday.

AWS wasn't immediately available to comment on the protestors’ pleas, which come amid proactive measures taken by Microsoft, Google, Meta, and Twitter to disrupt the cyber attacks on Ukraine coming from Russian and Belarusian actors. 

On Tuesday, Visa and Mastercard became the latest organisations to block Russian banks from their networks amid heavy international sanctions.

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