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Tinder owner Match Group swipes left on Russia, pledging exit by June 30

FILE PHOTO: The dating app Tinder is shown on a mobile phone in this picture illustration

By Alexander Marrow

(Reuters) - Tinder owner Match Group has said it will quit Russia by June 30, citing the need to protect human rights, one of many Western firms to leave since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine last year.

"We are committed to protecting human rights," Match said in an annual impact report published on Monday. "Our brands are taking steps to restrict access to their services in Russia and will complete their withdrawal from the Russian market by June 30, 2023."

Many digital services providers with few staff in Russia, such as Spotify and Netflix, pulled out shortly after Moscow began its military campaign in Ukraine in February 2022.

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Match, whose brands include dating applications such as Tinder, Hinge and PlentyOfFish, has made few public statements about its Russian operations, but flagged negative impacts on its European business in March 2022.

Match did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

Match shareholder Friends Fiduciary Corp said Match had set an example for others to follow in tying its decision to the human rights risks faced by the Ukrainian people.

The European police agency Europol said in September that dating apps were among the online platforms being "hijacked" by individuals for human trafficking purposes, drawing attention to the plight of Ukrainian refugees.

Jeff Perkins, executive director at Friends Fiduciary, told Reuters that a business that trades on trust had good reason to leave Russia:

"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."

The ICC issued an arrest warrant on March 17 against Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.

Moscow denies committing war crimes including forced deportations of children, and says the ICC decision is meaningless as Russia is not a member.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Kevin Liffey)