Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev yesterday called for state-owned operator Rostelecom to start offering services in the newly-annexed Crimean peninsula as soon as possible. Speaking at a meeting convened to discuss the social and economic development of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Medvedev asserted: ‘It is necessary to ensure that Rostelecom and its subsidiaries come to Crimea as quickly as possible.’ While the meeting was primarily concerned with restructuring Crimea’s institutions, law enforcement and energy sectors to meet what Medvedev called ‘Russian standards’ and issuing citizens with Russian passports, he also touched on the region’s communications infrastructure. Various news agencies have reported that the Russian authorities are reluctant to see confidential information transmitted via the networks of ‘foreign’ telecoms operators (such as Ukrainian incumbent telco Ukrtelecom, owned by the country’s largest conglomerate SCM).
In a referendum on 16 March 2014 the majority ethnic Russian electorate of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, followed two days later by Russian and Crimean leaders signing a deal to incorporate Crimea into Russia. In the same week Ukraine’s interim government decided to leave the Moscow-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) alliance.