Russian Court Intensifies Financial Pressure on Google
In the latest development in Russia's ongoing scrutiny of foreign tech companies, a Russian court has levied a new fine of 4 billion roubles ($47 million) against Alphabet's Google. The fine was imposed due to Google's alleged failure to pay a prior fine, associated with accusations of market abuse in the video hosting sector, according to Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) statement on Tuesday.
Google's Initial Fine and Subsequent Appeal
Previously in February 2022, the Russian authorities fined Google 2 billion roubles. The FAS, during this period, criticized Google's YouTube platform for having a "non-transparent, biased, and unpredictable" system about "suspending and blocking users' accounts and content," as reported by TASS news agency. In response to the fine, Google chose to challenge the decision legally.
Unpaid Fine Leads to Doubling of Penalty
The FAS clarified that the recent fine doubles the previous one due to Google's non-payment. Consequently, Google is now obliged to pay over 4 billion roubles to the budget of the Russian Federation, the FAS affirmed.
YouTube Under Pressure Amidst Global Blockade of Russian State-Funded Media
YouTube, which has globally blocked Russian state-funded media, is facing mounting pressure from Russian state organizations and politicians. While Moscow has not yet blocked YouTube, similar actions have been taken against other social media platforms such as Twitter and Meta's Facebook and Instagram.
Google's Response to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine Impacts Financial Operations
In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Google halted its online advertising sales in the country in March 2022, although it continued to offer certain free services. Google's Russian subsidiary subsequently filed for bankruptcy after its bank account was seized by the authorities, a move that disrupted its ability to pay employees and suppliers.
Sixty-Day Deadline to Pay the Latest Fine
TASS news agency reported that the tech giant is required to pay the newly imposed fine within a period of 60 days. The company, however, has not immediately responded to requests for comment on this issue.