Google files for bankruptcy in Russia

·2 min read
Google Privacy (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Google Privacy (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Google is filing for bankruptcy in Russia after authorities have seized its bank account.

The seizure means that the search giant is unable to pay staff and vendors. Free services in the country will remain operational.

“People in Russia rely on our services to access quality information and we’ll continue to keep free services such as Search, YouTube, Gmail, Maps, Android and Play available”, a Google spokesperson told The Independent.

Russian state media reported Wednesday that the tech company’s Russian subsidiary, Google LLC, submitted notice of its intention to declare bankruptcy to a national registry, Fedresurs.

The relationship with Google and Russia has been tumultuous since the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Google had stopped Russian customers from receiving access to paid services on the Play Store or YouTube – such as YouTube Premium – although free apps on its store would remain accessible. In response, Russian developers started building an alternative to the app store called NashStore, which translates as OurStore.

The new store would work on Android and be compatible with Russian bank cards for contactless payments – something as Google Pay also became inaccessible following sanctions.

The company said in a press statement that it filed for bankruptcy because the “Russian authorities’ seizure of Google Russia’s bank account has made it untenable for our Russia office to function, including employing and paying Russia-based employees, paying suppliers and vendors, and meeting other financial obligations.”

Fedresurs had previously said that Google had foreseen filing for bankruptcy due to the "the impossibility of fulfilling monetary obligations”, since 22 March.

Google had previously been fined $41,000 in Russia for not removing banned content from YouTube, with a similar levy issued for social networking site Twitter for not removing banned content included instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails.

Russia also fined Google 11 million roubles ($137,763) earlier this month for not deleting what the Russian court called “fake” information concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a war effort the Russian state is referring to as a special military operation.

Additional reporting via Associated Press