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Tinder Swipes Left on Russia a Year After Invasion

The owner of the dating apps Tinder and Hinge has announced it will stop operating in Russia, more than a year after the war in Ukraine broke out.

Match Group said its brands were taking steps to “restrict access” to services and would withdraw from the Russian market completely by 30 June.

The move comes after many global companies cut ties with Russia after the invasion in February 2022.

The BBC has approached Match Group for comment.

The US company made the announcement in its annual report on Tuesday, adding that it was “committed to protecting human rights”.

In the immediate weeks after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, many businesses, largely Western firms, announced they were suspending activities in Russia, or withdrawing from the country altogether.

As pressure from consumers grew, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Heineken announced they were cutting ties.

Tinder rival Bumble told the BBC it stopped operations in Russia and Belarus in March last year.

Match Group, whose brands include other dating sites such as Plenty of Fish, has made few public statements about its Russian operations.

However, the company, which employs more than 2,700 staff worldwide, did flag negative impacts on its European business in March 2022, according to news agency Reuters.

Match Group claims Tinder is the world’s “most popular app for meeting new people”.

What’s changed?

The time it has taken for the firm to announce its withdrawal from Russia has been questioned, with the majority of businesses who made such announcements doing so at the beginning of the conflict.

The Moral Rating Agency, a campaign group calling for Western firms to leave Russia, said Match Group’s reason for leaving being to protect human rights wasn’t credible.

“What has changed in the last year that made it wake up now? Putin has been relentlessly attacking Ukraine since he invaded the country,” said Mark Dixon, founder of the Moral Rating Agency.

“Tinder is fast for dating action but slow on moral action. It should just switch it off tomorrow.”

Mr Dixon added a “silver lining” in Match Group leaving was that it cutting off its apps in Russia would be “immediately noticed” by users there.

‘Not a good look’

Match Group shareholder Friends Fiduciary Corp told Reuters that the company’s continued presence in Russia didn’t reflect well on Match.

“It’s not a good look for a trusted brand to be continuing operations in a nation where the head of state has been indicted by the International Criminal Court,” said executive director Jeff Perkins.

Other technology firms, such as Netflix and Apple, paused operations in the country in 2022.

McDonald’s meanwhile confirmed it would leave for good and sell its restaurants in May.

The fast food chain opened its first restaurant in the country in 1990, with the move coming to symbolise a thaw in Cold War tensions.

Last week French drinks giant Pernod Ricard said it was “working hard to find the best way” to stop exporting brands to Russia, including Beefeater gin and Jameson whiskey, having previously admitted to restarting exports.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. It says he is responsible for war crimes during the Ukraine war, which includes the unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.

Source : BBC