A Moscow court on Monday fined the American giant Google 21 billion rubles ($475 million) for failing to remove content denouncing the offensive in Ukraine, the gendarme announced Russian telecommunications company Roskomnadzor.
The agency clarified that the YouTube video platform, owned by Google, had not blocked “false information” about the offensive in Ukraine, as well as content “propagating extremism and terrorism” or “calling on underage individuals to participate in unauthorized demonstrations”.
This is a repeat conviction, and under Russian law the company was therefore fined based on “its annual turnover” in Russia, Roskomnadzor said.
< p>In recent years, the Russian authorities have stepped up their pressure on major Western digital companies, with systematic fines and threats, in the hope of silencing criticism on the Internet, one of the last spaces for free expression in Russia.
Like most Western tech giants, however, Google recently exited the Russian market to denounce the military offensive in Ukraine.
Quoted by Ria-Novosti News Agency, an industry expert, Vladimir Zykov, said it was the heaviest fine ever imposed on a high-tech company in Russia.
According to him, however, the Russian authorities can inflict on Google “as many fines as they want, they will not receive any money” because the American company has ceased its activities in Russia and is no longer making a profit there.
Google did not immediately react to this historic fine.
The Russian telecoms policeman taxed Google and YouTube in March “terrorist” activities, foreshadowing a possible blocking of the site in Russia, as Twitter, Instagram and many independent media have been since the attack in Ukraine.
The Russian authorities have strongly reinforced the arsenal legal to control the communication on the conflict, threatening with a sentence of up to 15 years in prison those who disseminate “false information” about the Russian army. Several people are in jail on such charges.