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’Stop the war’: Ukrainian activists target Russian businesses with bad Google reviews

‘It was nice! However, Putin spoiled our mood by invading Ukraine’

Gino Spocchia
Tuesday 01 March 2022 20:15 GMT
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky calls attack on Kharkiv ‘a military crime’
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Russian businesses and museums have been targeted by Ukrainian activists with calls for Vladimir Putin to stop his war on Russia’s neighbour.

The calls appeared on a myriad of Google Maps reviews in Moscow and St Petersburg on Monday night following a call from Ukraine’s “IT Army”, a group trying to counter Russian propaganda and to disable Moscow’s war effort.

“Go to Google maps. Go to Russia. Find a restaurant or business and write a review,” the Ukrainian “IT Army” told its 24,000 followers on Twitter, adding: “When you write the review explain what is happening in Ukraine.”

“If you don’t know what to say here is an example text,” the “IT Army” told activists along with a review that could be copy and pasted into Google Maps.

“’It was nice! However, Putin spoiled our mood by invading Ukraine,” the text read in Russian. “Rise up against your dictator, stop killing innocent people! Your government is lying to you. Arise!’”

Within hours of that call, Russian institutions including St Petersburg’s Central Naval Museum, as well as some of Moscow’s most popular restaurants, were among those with reviews mentioning the Russian assault on Ukraine.

“Russia is not liberating Ukraine,” wrote one Google Maps user on the page for Moscow’s Cafe Puskhin restaurant, an establishment named after the famous Russian poet.

Reviews left on the Google maps page for Cafe Pushkin, in Moscow (Google maps)

“Russia has attacked defenseless civilians. Russia will kill its Ukrainian neighbours, kill women and babies. You are murderers in Putin’s hands. you have hands in blood !!!!” (Translated from Russian).

In addition to condemnation of Russia’s president for launching his invasion of Ukraine last Thursday, many comments seen by The Independent on Tuesday also called for the war to stop. The reviews were mainly aimed at Russians.

“Russia started a war with Ukraine! Stop the war!”, wrote another Google maps user and activist on the page for Moscow’s Romantic Restaurant. “Stop the war. Get out of Ukraine”, another added.

St Petersburg’s naval museum, which was founded by Russian tsar Peter the Great, meanwhile featured a comment that referred to Russia’s assault on Ukrainian civilians.

Reviews left on Google Maps for St Petersburg’s naval museum (Google maps)

“I really feel sorry for that family that burned in their car in Kharkov shot by Russian missile ... 2 adults and 3 children,” the review told Russians, in a reference to the battle between Ukraine and Russia forces in Kharkiv (the city’s name in Ukrainain). “You heard about that right?”

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia on Tuesday of instigating “frank, undisguised terror” on Kharkiv after Russian missiles target the city’s Freedom Square in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

“There was no military target on the square,” said Mr Zelensky. “Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget. This attack on Kharkiv is a war crime.”

More than 2300,000 people are thought to be belong to the “IT Army of Ukraine”, which Ukraine’s government set up on Sunday to launch internet-based attacks against Russia.

The Independent approached Google for comment.

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