What you need to know
- Russia has fined Google approximately $373 million for spreading “fake news” about the Ukraine war.
- The fine arises from YouTube’s failure to remove videos deemed illegal in the country.
- Google’s Russian subsidiary has also filed for bankruptcy after Russian authorities seized its bank accounts.
Google has had a rocky relationship with Russian authorities in recent months, following a nearly $100 million fine for prohibited content last year. Things are getting worse for Google, as Russia has imposed yet another fine for failing to delete YouTube videos that violate the country’s laws.
According to Reuters (opens in new tab), Google was fined 21.1 billion rubles (approximately $373 million) by a Moscow court for continuing to host the banned videos after being told to remove them. The videos in question contain materials that Russia claims cast a negative light on its “military operations” in Ukraine.
Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor brought down the hammer on Google last December for allegedly spreading “fake news” about the Ukraine war. Roskomnadzor accused YouTube of “discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation.”
Google didn’t comply with Russia’s order to restrict access to those videos. In March, Russia threatened to fine the Mountain View-based company if it continued to distribute such videos.
Divinemercy has reached out to Google for comment and will update this article when we receive a response.
Russia has also seized the bank account of Google’s subsidiary in the country, making it impossible for the company pay the fines. The current western sanctions levied on Russia also prevent any form of fund transfer to the country. As a result, Google’s Russian unit has declared bankruptcy.
Google isn’t the only country facing fines in Russia. In April, Moscow also fined Meta and TikTok (opens in new tab) for failing to remove LGBT content, which violates the country’s laws. The latest action against Google is part of Russia’s effort to tighten its grip on free speech in the country since it invaded Ukraine in February.