Czech-based multinational cybersecurity software company Avast has suspended the sale and marketing of its products in Russia and Belarus.
In a statement shared Thursday, Avast said it was ceasing business in Russia and offering its premium products free of charge to the people of Ukraine.
“With immediate effect, we have withdrawn the availability of all of our products from Russia and Belarus and suspended all marketing and sales operations in these countries,” said Avast.
“We do not take this decision lightly; we’ve offered our products in Russia for nearly 20 years and users in this country are an important part of our global community.”
The company said that it is “actively working to protect and sustain” employees in both Ukraine and Russia.
“We continue to pay their full salaries and have aided the temporary relocation, at their request, of some families who were in high-risk areas,” said Avast.
“We’ve been in constant communication with the affected employees, and the challenges and very real dangers they face are an ongoing source of deep concern.”
Avast is giving paying users in Ukraine an extension on their licenses for free and offering free premium products to its freemium users in the country.
“With disinformation rife, supporting Ukrainians’ access to a secure, unrestricted internet connection to obtain and share accurate information about the conflict is critically important,” said Avast.
Commenting on Avast’s withdrawal from Russia, Coalfire vice president, John Dickson, told InfosecurityMagazine: “Right now, there is little political or market blow back for pulling out of Russia–they’ve become a pariah state in just weeks. However, most companies tread lightly in geopolitics given the obvious downside to upsetting buyers on one side or another of a geopolitical issue.”
Dickson added that such actions could punish Russian citizens who are already feeling the impact of sanctions imposed by countries including the US and UK.
“Russian civilians are more likely to be negatively affected by the broad economic sanctions from the West, which now include companies pulling out of Russia. These corporate departures only add more salt to these wounds,” said Dickson.