21 Mar 2022 21:01

Buying Meta shares may be qualified in Russia as financing of extremism - expert

MOSCOW. March 21 (Interfax) - Acquisitions of stock in Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, by Russian citizens after Moscow's Tverskoi Court designated the company as extremist may be qualified as the financing of extremism, Sarkis Darbinyan, managing partner at the DRC law firm, told Interfax.

"Acquisitions of this company's shares will probably be qualified as the financing of extremist activity. The law has no retroactive force, it cannot be applied to all deals. Therefore, it will not apply to those who bought these shares before the court issued its ruling," Darbinyan said.

Meta will be finally designated as an extremist organization after it is added to the Russian Justice Ministry's relevant register, the lawyer said.

"Since the court ruling enters into force immediately, there are currently no obstacles to its inclusion. The Justice Ministry can do it as soon as tomorrow," he said.

The company still has the right to appeal the court ruling, Darbinyan said.

"In certain cases, a court may execute its ruling immediately, but it does not cancel the opportunity to file an appeal," he said.

Liability for demonstrating the extremist organization's symbols or for financing it (for instance, placing ads on Facebook or Instagram) may be introduced for citizens following the organization's inclusion in the Justice Ministry's register.

"Citizens should be guided by its inclusion in the register. It is the ground for opening some cases. But there will be no consequences for citizens for now," Darbinyan said.

Earlier on Monday, the Tverskoi Court of Moscow granted the Prosecutor General Office's lawsuit, which demanded that the operations of Meta Platforms Inc. be banned in Russia over the company's extremist activities.