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Google Russia files for bankruptcy, ends operations in the country

The asset seizure by Russian authorities has made it impossible for the company to pay employees or suppliers

A smartphone with the Google logo displayed on screen floats in front of a blurred Russian flag

Google’s Russia-based business unit has filed for bankruptcy following the country’s decision to seize its bank account in late March.

The move made it impossible for the Google subsidiary to continue paying its employees, suppliers, and vendors, making it “untenable” for the tech giant to “function”, according to a statement given to Reuters.

It has also made it increasingly difficult for Google to move its remaining employees out of Russia. The company had been helping its staff transfer to other EMEA offices since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February. Googlers who had chosen to remain in Russia have now been let go.

The asset seizure by Russian authorities is the latest development in Google’s soured relations with Putin’s government. In late 2021, Google was fined 9 million roubles (£94,400) as penalty for failing to delete content deemed illegal by the Russian state.

That same week, Google launched legal action against a group of Russian hackers in the world’s first lawsuit against a blockchain-enabled botnet.

In March, Russia banned Google News for promoting “inauthentic information” about the invasion of Ukraine after Google paused all advertising for Russian state-funded media in late February.

In a statement, the Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor said that the decision to restrict Russian users’ access to Google News was made “based on a request from the Russian prosecutor general’s office”.

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“The mentioned US internet news resource provided access to numerous publications and materials containing unreliable, publicly significant information about the course of the special military operation in Ukraine,” it added.

The Russian government has made it close to impossible for its citizens to access any external information regarding the invasion of Ukraine, blocking access to Facebook and heavily restricting access to Twitter. Many were left dependent on news coverage shared through groups on messaging app Telegram, which was known to evade Russia’s censorship laws by using Google’s IP addresses to continue operating in the country.

Telegram and Google weren’t immediately available for comment.

Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, SAP, AMD, Intel, and TSMC have all suspended their Russian operations since the invasion began.

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