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Ukraine: Netflix, Spotify pull out of Russia

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Agency Report

Spotify and Netflix join the list of companies pulling out of Russia in the wake of its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Netflix has paused all projects and acquisitions in Russia while Spotify closed its office in Russia indefinitely, according to UK Metro.

Netflix previously said it had ‘no plans’ to carry 20 free-to-air channels in Russia that it could be required to by Russian law. Some of the channels, which include news, sports and entertainment, are reportedly aligned with Russian authorities.

Filming for the production of Russian language series Zato will be halted while the company said it was assessing the impact of the current invasion of Ukraine.

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In November, Russia demanded foreign tech companies to open offices in the country or face sanctions.

Since July 2021, Russian legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin has obliged foreign social media companies with more than 500,000 daily users to open local offices or be subject to restrictions as severe as outright bans.

Ahead of the March deadline, only a few companies, including Spotify, had complied.

“Our first priority over the past week has been the safety of our employees and to ensure that Spotify continues to serve as an important source of global and regional news at a time when access to information is more important than ever,” Spotify said in a statement.

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The music streaming giant has said it has reviewed thousands of pieces of content since the start of the war, and restricted the discoverability of shows owned and operated by Russian state-affiliated media.

Earlier this week, it also removed all content from state media RT and Sputnik from Spotify in the European Union, the United States and other markets around the world, except for Russia, following similar steps by Meta, Facebook and Twitter.

Sputnik on Wednesday told Reuters by email that “any restrictions on members of the press are blatant censorship and the dirtiest example of freedom of speech violations”.

RT said earlier this week that tech companies removing it had failed to cite any issues with its coverage.

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Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week, Western governments have urged companies to push back on Putin in any way possible.

“More sanctions imposed — faster peace restored in Ukraine!,”tweeted Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister, calling on companies like SAP and Oracle to suspend their services in Russia.

Both companies have since complied, in addition to tech giants like Apple, Google and Twitter also cutting down their business in Russia since the start of the conflict.

Apple stopped selling iPhones in Russia and payment methods using Apple Pay and Google Pay remain suspended in the country.

Source: UK Metro

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