The Crimea prosecution office, whose role is to apply Ukrainian law in a territory which has been under Russian control since March 2014, has filed a lawsuit against Booking.com.
The company, which is incorporated in the Netherlands, is accused of “violating Ukrainian and international law, as well as sanctions, not only by cooperating with bandit self-constituted authorities, but also by advertising and letting book accommodation in Crimean hotels which were stolen from Ukraine.”
From an alternative legal point of view, however, Booking.com is not violating the law, since they do not sell accommodation themselves, but function rather as an advertising site for the hotels, Internet users have argued in social media discussions.
Moreover, Booking.com does not violate the EU and Netherlands laws by dealing with Russian companies as long as these are not targeted by the sanctions.
In an exchange with Ukrainian tech blog AIN.UA, Booking.com stated that it is operating in compliance with the commercial sanctions imposed by the EU and the Netherlands authorities pertaining to Crimea.
“To avoid any confusion regarding the situation, Booking.com has updated its website so that the booking functions not be available to those travelling to Crimea for touristic purposes,” the company stated in its exchanges with AIN.UA.
The legal inquiry is under way, however, AIN.UA reports, based on exchanges with the Crimean prosecution office.
The sovereignty dispute over Crimea and its legal implications have affected a variety of online activities. As previously reported by Ukraine Digital News, these activities have involved such companies as Alibaba, Apple, Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor, Yandex as well as a range of payment and gaming companies.