Google users outside Russia have taken to the internet to write reviews of Moscow restaurants and subway stations to inform Russians hit by a news blackout about the war in Ukraine.
The messages range from the simple “Stop the war” to literary reviews replete with metaphors about Chicken Kiev and the Russian chef_ clearly an allusion to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Others have simply posted images of the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag.
Some of them are in English, others are in German. Google translates some reviews automatically into Russian which one reviewer told Universul.net was the most effective way to reach their audience.
“The restaurant is wonderful. Please spread the word. It’s important that people get to hear how it really is,” began one review of the Café Pushkin in Moscow, striking a literary note.
“The décor, food, atmosphere and lighting is beautiful. Meanwhile, you’re experiencing a news blackout. Your president has invaded another country to your South and is trying to occupy it with force, bombardments and illegal weapons.”
“He’s using vacuum bombs, capable of vaporizing human bodies, crushing internal organs and reducing cities to rubble.”
“ Act now. Hundreds of Russian soldiers are dying. Many don’t know why they’re there. Very fresh meat! And a great variety of delicious dessert-ers. “
Another restaurant review wrote: “The Chicken Kiev is not to die for, and there’s a fire in the kitchen since the Moscow chef sent his boys in. They need help.”
Universul.net has decided not to publish the names of reviewers or the names of the all the restaurants to protect people from possible reprisals.
„Writing reviews is one way to get information to the populace about what’s going on,” one reviewer in Britain said, asking for their name not to be used.
The famous Moscow subway also found itself suddenly receiving reviews. One posted “Glory to Ukraine!” on the Dubrovka station.
Another said: “The station is great. Meanwhile, you’re experiencing a news blackout. Your president has invaded another country …. Good luck with your journey.”
But later Wednesday, many of the reviews had been deleted. It turned out that the influx of new reviews had been noticed by Google.
„Due to a recent increase in contributed content on Google Maps related to the war in Ukraine, we’ve put additional protections in place to monitor and prevent content that violates our policies for Maps, including temporarily blocking new reviews, photos, and videos in the region,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.
St Petersburg restaurant
In Germany, the St Petersburg restaurant saw a flush of new reviews in the last 24 hours, none actually connected to its dishes.
“Please Russian people see what is going on the world. Your leader Putin is about to start a Third World War.”
„In Ukraine he kills civilians with illegal weapons. This is an invasion, your news are (sic) misleading you.”