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Meta: Azov Regiment no longer meets criteria for dangerous organization on Facebook, Instagram

by Daryna AntoniukJanuary 19, 2023 8:24 pm

Meta: Azov Regiment no longer meets criteria for dangerous organization on Facebook, InstagramMinister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov addresses the audience at Altice Arena Centre Stage during the third day of the Web Summit 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal, on Nov. 3, 2022. (Hugo Amaral/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

U.S. tech giant Meta, the owner of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, no longer designates Ukraine’s Azov Regiment as a “dangerous organization.” 

This means that Azov Regiment members will be allowed to have accounts on Meta platforms, while content posted by other users about Azov Regiment will no longer be removed, Meta’s spokesperson told the Kyiv Independent in an emailed statement.

Ukraine has been negotiating with Meta for a long time to convince the company to allow publishing content about the Azov Regiment and its members.

Azov Regiment is a unit of the National Guard of Ukraine formerly based in Mariupol, a Ukrainian port city now occupied by Russia. The group has sparked controversy over its alleged association with far-right groups – a recurring theme used by Russian propaganda.

“The war in Ukraine has meant changing circumstances in many areas and it has become clear that the Azov Regiment does not meet our strict criteria for designation as a dangerous organization,” Meta’s spokesperson said.

Azov Regiment will still have to comply with the platforms’ Community Standards.

Meta’s decision will allow the whole world “to learn about the feat of the defenders of Mariupol, and Russian propaganda will lose its argument for blaming Ukrainian heroes,” said Ukraine's Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov.

"The ministry has been in constant communication with Meta. Hundreds of accounts of Ukrainian military personnel, bloggers and activists have been unblocked (before)," said Fedorov.

Other groups associated with the Azov Movement, including its founder Andriy Biletsky and his far-right political party National Corps, are still designated as “dangerous” by Meta.

Meta makes a distinction between Azov Regiment and Azov Movement. 

Azov Movement “has strong ties to far-right extremists in many EU countries and the U.S.,” said Alexander Ritzmann, a senior advisor to the Counter Extremism Project, in an interview with Euronews. 

The Azov Regiment that is fighting against Russian invaders is something completely different, he added.

Azov Regiment “was fully integrated into the Ukrainian national guard and since then operates under the command of the Ministry of the Interior,” Ritzmann said.

Note from the author:

Hi, this is Daryna Antoniuk, I hope you enjoyed reading my story. 

I cover tech for the Kyiv Independent during one of the most difficult times for my country. We need stories like these because the fight on the digital front is just as important as the fight on the ground. I really want to write again about investment in Ukraine’s hi-tech, cool startups and the booming Ukrainian IT market. 

But first, Ukraine needs to win the war. Our part in it is keeping the world informed. Consider becoming a patron of the Kyiv Independent so you can read more stories about tech and business in the future. 

Daryna Antoniuk
Daryna Antoniuk
Tech reporter

Daryna Antoniuk is a tech reporter at the Kyiv Independent. She worked in the same role at the Kyiv Post and has focused on Ukrainian startups, investment and the fintech market. Antoniuk previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted and The Record. She graduated from Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv with BA in journalism and communications.

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