Kremlin urges Russia’s IT to develop rival to videoconferencing app

Zoom despite its security and privacy troubles remains the most preferred video conferencing app.(REUTERS). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MOSCOW, Apr 8, 2021, TASS. Zoom’s decision to pull the plug on Russian state agencies’ access to its service should spur the development of domestic alternatives to this popular video communication app, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday (Apr 7), according to the TASS.

“We need to switch to alternatives, they do exist,” he said, commenting on Zoom’s decision to restrict access by Russian state-owned companies to its software.

“Of course, our app developers will need to work hard to put the finishing touches on their products. We still have shortcomings in this area. Nevertheless, they [similar services] exist and they will be able to countervail the absence of such a popular service as Zoom. As the saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum,” Peskov explained.

“In general, we can only express our regret and bewilderment as to why Russian state institutions and higher educational institutions are now deprived of the opportunity to renew existing corporate contracts [with Zoom] and sign new ones,” the Kremlin spokesman added, commenting on the situation.

“Unfortunately, this is an American service,” Peskov pointed out.

The official specified that a number of clients tried to contact the company’s head office in Poland, but nothing panned out. Peskov recalled that on Tuesday he talked with friends from the Higher School of Economics, who could not renew their contracts with the American videoconferencing service, because they receive government funding.

Commenting on the situation in general, Peskov noted that there was “nothing special about” switching to other services in the wake of Zoom’s decision.

Earlier, Kommersant daily reported that Zoom Video Communications had prohibited its distributors from selling its online conference services to government agencies and state-owned firms in Russia and other former Soviet countries. The newspaper cited a letter by RightConf, Zoom’s distributor in Russia and the CIS, to its partners dated March 31.

According to the letter, Zoom Video Communications Inc. is revoking its Russian partner’s authorization to sell services to state agencies and government-funded companies. Reports say that RightConf CEO Andrei Petrenko, confirmed the authenticity of the letter to Kommersant. He also specified that the restrictions apply not only to Russia, but also to CIS countries. That said, Petrenko said that his company would continue working according to its existing contracts.

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