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Mobile World Congress to open with uncertainty over Russian involvement

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he Mobile World Congress (MWC) technology trade show will open on Monday with questions remaining over the level of Russian involvement in the event.

MWC is returning to Barcelona with a predominantly in-person convention for the first time since the pandemic and with strict Covid restrictions in place, but it is uncertainty over any Russian presence at the show amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine which has taken centre stage.

Show organisers the GSMA said in a statement on its website that it “strongly condemns” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and confirmed that a Russian Pavilion, an area used by some countries to showcase a number of smaller businesses in one place, would now not be present at the convention.

However, the organisers have not confirmed if a wider Russian presence will be allowed, larger companies are able to purchase large booth spaces for themselves on the convention floor, with the GSMA saying security for the show in Barcelona was “constantly reviewed and adjusted as information emerges”.

Late last week, GSMA chief executive John Hoffman told Reuters that “a handful, a few” Russian companies and their executives would also be banned from the show, but has not named them, saying the sanctions list was evolving.

“The situation is fast-moving, and we understand that various governments are considering broader sanctions against Russia,” the GSMA’s statement on its website says.

“In light of this emerging situation and considering the tragic loss of life, MWC seems immaterial under the circumstances.

“MWC is a unifying event with a vision to convene the mobile ecosystem to progress ways and means that connectivity can ensure people, industry, and society thrive.

“The GSMA follows all government sanctions and policies resulting from this situation.

“There will be no Russian Pavilion at MWC22.

“Security for the event is constantly reviewed and adjusted as information emerges.”

Some Russian companies, including search engine Yandex, do still appear on the exhibitor list for the show on the MWC website.

The four-day event is traditionally one of the biggest conventions for the launch of new mobile devices, with a wide range of gadgets unveiled by high-profile names including Samsung, Huawei, Nokia and others.

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