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Russian influencers left in tears after Putin bans Instagram

Russian influencers sobbed uncontrollably as they bid tearful goodbyes to their followers after Vladimir Putin banned Instagram in the country, cutting off 80 million users on Monday.

Russian reality TV star Olga Buzova, 36, posted a video Sunday that shows her weeping over the ban, as she tells her 23.3 million followers in a nearly seven-minute video that she feels her life is being taken away from her. 

‘I am not afraid of admitting that I do not want to lose you,’ she said in Russian, according to the Insider.  

‘I do not know what the future holds. I don’t know. I just shared my life, my work, and my soul. I did not do this all as a job for me, this is a part of my soul. It feels like a big part of my heart, and my life is being taken away from me.’ 

The inconsolable influencers have been slammed on social media for crying over the impending loss of their fans while thousands of people have been killed as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

‘God, in Ukraine, people are dying, children are in the subway, there is nowhere to sleep, they have lost everything, and you are crying because of Instagram,’ one user commented on an influencer’s post. 

A video was posted on Sunday by Olga Buzova, 36, shows the reality TV star sobbing over the ban, telling her 23.3 million followers in a nearly seven-minute video that she feels her life is being taken away from her

'I am not afraid of admitting that I do not want to lose you,' she said in Russian

‘I am not afraid of admitting that I do not want to lose you,’ she said in Russian

'I do not know what the future holds. I don't know,' she continued. 'I just shared my life, my work, and my soul. I did not do this all as a job for me, this is a part of my soul. It feels like a big part of my heart, and my life is being taken away from me'

‘I do not know what the future holds. I don’t know,’ she continued. ‘I just shared my life, my work, and my soul. I did not do this all as a job for me, this is a part of my soul. It feels like a big part of my heart, and my life is being taken away from me’

Instagram ban will prevent Buzova from sharing one of her many bikini snaps with her followers

Instagram ban will prevent Buzova from sharing one of her many bikini snaps with her followers

In a clip shared on Twitter by Nexta TV, an unnamed Russian beauty blogger broke down in tears and said she was in the ‘first stage of grief’ over the ban.   

Speaking to fans in a video livestreamed on Telegram, she sobbed: ‘Do you think that for me, as an Instagram influencer, this is [a] source of income?

‘To me, it’s [Instagram] just all life, it’s the soul. It’s the one with which I wake up, fall asleep, f***ing five years in a row.’ 

She faced furious criticism online and was accused of caring more about her pay packet rather than ‘thousands of dead people, including her compatriots.’

Responding to her video, NEXTA jibed: ‘She does not care at all about the thousands of dead people, including her compatriots. Obviously, her biggest worry right now is that she won’t be able to post pictures of food from restaurants.’

Her comments came on the same day that the besieged city of Mariupol entered its 13th day without food, water and electricity.

Nearly 2,200 people have been killed in Mariupol, with looters fighting on the streets over vital supplies and corpses being buried in mass graves.

In a clip shared on Twitter by Nexta TV, an unnamed Russian beauty blogger broke down in tears and said she was in the 'first stage of grief' over the ban

In a clip shared on Twitter by Nexta TV, an unnamed Russian beauty blogger broke down in tears and said she was in the ‘first stage of grief’ over the ban

The blogger, who was very upset about the Instagram blackout, said to her fans in the teary video: 'Do you think that for me, as an Instagram influencer, this [Telegram] is [a] source of income?'

The blogger, who was very upset about the Instagram blackout, said to her fans in the teary video: ‘Do you think that for me, as an Instagram influencer, this [Telegram] is [a] source of income?’

In her final Instagram post before the ban goes ahead on Monday, Liza Lukasheva, who has one million followers, wrote her goodbyes

In her stories, she said: 'Guys. My beloveds, just like you I've read all the news and I'm very upset that we could be lost, not to be found again. I'm basically hopeless'

In her final Instagram post before the ban goes ahead on Monday, Liza Lukasheva, who has one million followers, wrote her goodbyes: ‘My dear friends, Instagram will be closed in our country in the near future… in the next few hours’

Many Russian influencers told their followers to switch over to Telegram or the VK social media platform to continue following their content. 

Valeria Chekalina, a pregnant Instagram influencer with 10.5 million followers, told fans she would be posting her content on Telegram and VK. 

In her Instagram bio, she wrote, ‘Instagram is no more,’ alongside an emoji of a crying face. 

Another Russian influencer, Nastya Ivleeva, posted a tearful photo, with the caption: ‘6 years of my work as a blogger just were cancelled’

Russian Instagram influencer Nastya Ivleeva @_agentgirl_ posted a teraful photo, saying '6 years of my work as a blogger just were cancelled'

Russian Instagram influencer Nastya Ivleeva @_agentgirl_ posted a teraful photo, saying ‘6 years of my work as a blogger just were cancelled’

Russia’s Instagram ban comes a week after it blocked Facebook.  

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, tweeted that Russia’s ban would leave 80 million people cut off from one another and ‘from the rest of the world’ and added ‘this is wrong.’

Other Instagram ‘models’ based in Russia, such as Liza Lukasheva and Anna Ivanova have already begun sharing parting messages with their fans ahead of the social media app being banned in the country.

Russian influencers have focused on how to continue their source of income by asking their fanbase to follow them elsewhere, such as Telegram and VKontakte, which is the Russian equivalent of Facebook.

Russia bans Instagram and accuses Facebook owner Meta of being an ‘extremist’ organization for allowing users to call for ‘death to the Russian invaders’ in Ukraine 

Russia has banned Instagram and opened a criminal case against Facebook’s owner Meta as it accused it of being an ‘extremist’ organization.

Russian prosecutors asked a court to designate Meta as an ‘extremist organization’ after the the US tech giant temporarily allowed posts such as ‘death to the Russian invaders following Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion of Ukraine, now entering its third week.

The latest clampdown also saw access restricted to Instagram and comes after Roskomnadzor, which oversees Russian mass media, blocked Facebook and Twitter amid Moscow’s war propaganda campaign.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, which reports directly to Russian president Vladimir Putin, confirmed that a criminal case had been started against Meta for allowing what it deemed to be illegal content.

‘A criminal case has been initiated … in connection with illegal calls for murder and violence against citizens of the Russian Federation by employees of the American company Meta, which owns the social networks Facebook and Instagram,’ the committee said.

It was not immediately clear what the consequences of the criminal case might be. No comment was immediately available from Meta in response to a Reuters request.

The Investigative Committee said Facebook’s change in hate speech rules could violate articles of the Russian criminal law against public calls for extremist activities.

In her final Instagram post before the ban on Monday, Liza Lukasheva, who has one million followers, wrote her goodbyes: ‘My dear friends, Instagram will be closed in our country in the near future… in the next few hours.

‘I will be happy to stay in touch with you and continue to make content for you. Subscribe to my Telegram channel and my VKontakte community. I promise to communicate with you in English and tell you the events of my life! Thank you for everything.’

In her stories, she said: ‘Guys. My beloveds, just like you I’ve read all the news and I’m very upset that we could be lost, not to be found again.

‘I’m basically hopeless.’

Anna Ivanova, with 4.4 million following her on Instagram, said in a final post: ‘Millions of stories, thousands of posts, thousands of happy moments that were shared with you, your support, love, music that I could have shared with you, all of this united us into one big insta-family.

‘Almost 5 million people and 10 years… I am sure that everything will get better and there will be even more of us, but for now I wish us all only peace and strength to survive all difficulties.

‘I am waiting for you in my Telegram channel and in the VK group.’

On Friday, Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor said it would restrict access of Instagram because of ‘calls to commit violent acts’, after Meta confirmed a temporary easing of its rules to allow messages of violence against Russian forces and leaders like ‘death to Russian invaders’.

Meta’s global affairs president Nick Clegg responded to the escalation from Putin by explaining that the ‘loosened rules’ were only to apply to those posting from inside Ukraine.

He added: ‘We will not tolerate Russophobia or any kind of discrimination, harassment or violence towards Russians on our platform.’

Telegram is a multi-platform messaging app which allows users to exchange texts, photos and videos in groups of up to 200,000 people.

Pavel Durov, a Russian-born billionaire, founded both Telegram and VKontakte (VK), but he was fired from the company and forced to leave Russia by national security agency FSB after he refused to provide private data of Ukrainian users of VK.

In a post on Telegram, which has been viewed over 1.2 million times, Durov stressed that he has family from Kyiv in Ukraine and his mother’s maiden name is a Ukrainian one.

‘That’s why this tragic conflict is personal both to me and Telegram. Some people wondered if Telegram is somehow less secure for Ukrainians, because I once lived in Russia. Let me tell these people how my career in Russia ended.

Instagram 'models' living in Russia posted their parting pictures with fans, including Liza Lukasheva and Anna Ivanova, who said in a final post: 'Almost 5 million people and 10 years... I am sure that everything will get better and there will be even more of us, but for now I wish us all only peace and strength to survive all difficulties'

Instagram ‘models’ living in Russia posted their parting pictures with fans, including Liza Lukasheva and Anna Ivanova, who said in a final post: ‘Almost 5 million people and 10 years… I am sure that everything will get better and there will be even more of us, but for now I wish us all only peace and strength to survive all difficulties’

‘Nine years ago I was the CEO of VK, which was the largest social network in Russia and Ukraine. In 2013, the Russian security agency, FSB, demanded that I provide them the private data of the Ukrainian users of VK who were protesting against a pro-Russian President.

‘I refused to comply with these demands, because it would have meant a betrayal of our Ukrainian users. After that, I was fired from the company I founded and was forced to leave Russia. I lost my company and my home, but would do it again – without hesitation.

‘I smile with pride when I read my VK post from April 2014, which shows the scanned orders from the FSB and my trademark response to them – a dog in a hoodie. When I defied their demands, the stakes were high for me personally.

‘I was still living in Russia, and my team and my old company were also based in that country. Many years have passed since then. Many things changed: I no longer live in Russia, no longer have any companies or employees there. But one thing remains the same – I stand for our users no matter what. Their right to privacy is sacred. Now – more than ever.’

Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor also ‘restricted access’ to social media network Twitter, Russian news agencies reported last Friday.

According to Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies, access to Twitter was restricted on the basis of a request of the Prosecutor General from February 24.

Russia has for more than a year been striving to curb the influence of US tech giants including Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter, repeatedly fining them for allowing what it deems to be illegal content.

But Putin’s ruthless invasion of Ukraine, met by a storm of international condemnation and unprecedented sanctions, has sharply raised the stakes in the information war.

Social media provides an opportunity for dissent against Putin’s claims – followed by the tightly controlled state media – that Moscow was forced to launch its ‘special military operation’ to defend Russian-speakers in Ukraine against genocide and to demilitarize and ‘denazify’ the country.

Valeria Chekalina, a pregnant Instagram influencer with 10.5 million followers, told fans she would be posting her content on Telegram and VK

Valeria Chekalina, a pregnant Instagram influencer with 10.5 million followers, told fans she would be posting her content on Telegram and VK

In her Instragm bio, she wrote, 'Instagram is no more,' in her Instagram bio, alongside an emoji of a crying face.

 In her Instragm bio, she wrote, ‘Instagram is no more,’ in her Instagram bio, alongside an emoji of a crying face.

Instagram is a favored tool of jailed Putin opponent Alexei Navalny, who took to the social media site – via his lawyers – on Friday to call for Russians to join protests against the Ukraine war and ‘mad maniac Putin’ this weekend.

WhatsApp will not be affected by the legal moves, Russia’s RIA news agency cited a source as saying, as the messaging app is considered a means of communication, not a way to post information.

It comes one day after a Meta spokesperson said the company had temporarily eased its rules for political speech, allowing posts such as ‘death to the Russian invaders,’ although it would not allow calls for violence against Russian civilians.

Meta said the temporary change aimed to allow for forms of political expression that would normally violate its rules. Its oversight board said on Friday that it was closely following the war in Ukraine, and how Meta is responding.

Internal Meta emails seen by Reuters showed the US company had also temporarily allowed posts that call for the death of Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

It was said posts that call for Putin’s or Lukashenko’s death will only be removed if they target other individuals or if there are indications the threat is credible.

Debris of destroyed Mariupol buildings litters the street as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Saturday, March 12, 2022

Debris of destroyed Mariupol buildings litters the street as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Saturday, March 12, 2022

Pavel Durov, a Russian-born billionaire, founded both Telegram and VKontakte (VK), but he was fired from the company and forced to leave Russia by national security agency FSB after he refused to provide private data of Ukrainian users of VK

Pavel Durov, a Russian-born billionaire, founded both Telegram and VKontakte (VK), but he was fired from the company and forced to leave Russia by national security agency FSB after he refused to provide private data of Ukrainian users of VK

‘We hope it is not true because if it is true then it will mean that there will have to be the most decisive measures to end the activities of this company,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The temporary policy change applied to Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.

Facebook said calls for violence against prisoners of war will not be allowed.

The United Nations human rights office said the potential change in Facebook policy was worrying.

‘It is a very concerning issue because it does have a certain risk to generate and encourage and allow hate speech that is directed at Russians in general,’ spokesperson Elizabeth Throssell said.

Several social media companies previously announced new content restrictions after the Ukraine invasion including blocking Russia state media RT and Sputnik in Europe.

Russia blocked Facebook for ‘discrimination towards Russian media’ after it banned Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik in the UK at the request of the British government.

The Investigative Committee for Russia had already stated that they were launching an investigation of Meta, with prosecutors branding it as ‘extremist’.

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