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Russia fines Google $365 million over YouTube videos containing ‘prohibited’ content

Google’s Russian subsidiary has already filed for bankruptcy

Illustration by William Joel / The Verge

Russia imposed a nearly $365 million fine (21.1 billion rubles) on Google for failing to delete YouTube videos that go against the country’s laws, as reported earlier by Reuters. In a translated press release, Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor states that YouTube didn’t follow orders to remove “prohibited content,” which includes videos “promoting extremism and terrorism,” as well as supposedly false information about the war in Ukraine.

In March, the Roskomnadzor threatened to charge Google over its failure to remove “illegal” YouTube videos, stating the fee would start at 8 million rubles (~$94,675 USD at the time), with the possibility to climb to 20 percent of Google’s annual revenue. The 21.1 billion rubles reflects a chunk of Google’s yearly turnover in the country, but it’s unclear if Google will actually go through with paying the fine. Google didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.

Google announced its plans to shut down its Russian operations in May, stating that government authorities seized its assets in the country and that it would be “untenable” to keep the branch functional. The search giant’s Russian subsidiary officially filed for bankruptcy last month.

Russia and Google have feuded in the past. Last December, Russia fined Google $100 million for once again failing to delete banned content, but things escalated following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Like many other technology companies, Google cut off Russian customers from various services, pausing the sale of ads on Google, demonetizing YouTube channels owned by Russian state-backed media, and barring access to those channels.