18 March 2014 - 2:17pm | posted by | 0 comments

Huffington Post shelves Russia launch over Ukraine crisis

Huffington Post shelves Russia launch over Ukraine crisisHuffington Post shelves Russia launch over Ukraine crisis

The Huffington Post has shelved plans to launch in Russia because of the Ukraine crisis.

Russia was one of 15 markets the title had plans to launch in by 2015 amid a global expansion that has so far taken it into 11 countries. However, HuffPost has halted negotiations to move into Russia after the country's intervention in Crimea.

In rapidly moving events following the overthrow of the pro-Russian government in Ukraine, Russia's President Vladimir Putin moved troops into Crimea, which is majority ethnically Russian, and a referendum was called asking citizens whether they wanted to be part of Russia. The referendum - branded illegal by the West - returned a vote in favour of joining Russia.

Speaking to The Drum, Huffington Post CEO Jimmy Maymann said: "We had a plan of 15 markets and we've launched in 11 so far. India is a place where we're in negotiations and trying to do a deal.
"We were in negotiations in Russia but then they decided to invade Crimea. Right now there's sanctions against them so we're putting that on the back burner."

While the sanctions imposed by the US and EU do not directly affect the US-based Huffington Post's ability to do business there, Maymann explained: "Right now, with everything that's going on, it's probably not appropriate for us to continue and go ahead and launch a business in the midst of all this."

As well as India, HuffPost has plans to break into Mexico and China, however the Chinese market has also proved problematic.

"In some shape or form we'd like to be in China, but obviously our model is challenging in China because we like people to take part and contribute and that's not necessarily what they want in China."

However, Maymann added that the outlook for China has improved somewhat. The title has gone from having journalists banned from entering the country to hosting a Chinese delegation of 20 in New York recently. China reciprocated with an invitation to visit China and observe the business landscape.

Maymann said negotiations will continue but the title is yet to decide whether it will be comfortable with a potentially limited service in a strictly controlled China.

The Huffington Post's global expansion has taken it to the UK, France, Germany, Korea, Japan and Brazil and other places. It has since grown its monthly unique users from less than 50 million to almost 100 million.

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