A Moscow district court Thursday ruled that Google must pay 7.2 million rubles (approximately $86,394) in fines for distributing content outlawed in Russia.
The decision by Judge Timur Vakhrameev found Google guilty under Article 13.41 of Russia’s Administrative Code which penalizes the failure to delete information deemed illegal by the legislation of the Russian Federation. The content in question includes videos of the Azov regiment and the so-called Right Sector voluntary Ukrainian corps. According to the court’s order, the videos call for “terrorist attacks and sabotage on the territory of the Russian Federation.”
The Prosecutor General’s Office had demanded that Google remove this content along with videos from the official YouTube channel of Alexey Navalny and the Ukrainian Free Idel-Ural non-governmental organization. Google, however, defied these orders.
Last week, the court also fined Google to the tune of 4 million rubles (approximately $50,124) for spreading allegedly fake reports about losses of the Russian armed forces in the course of the special operation in Ukraine and the number of victims among local residents.
Russian Communications Regulator Roskomnadzor initiated the administrative cases on 29 March, alleging that Google has failed to remove banned information from Youtube and has promoted false content. The Regulator deemed that YouTube is a key platform in information warfare after the platform globally blocked Russian state-funded media.
A Google spokesperson responded, stating that Google is taking additional steps to clarify and extend monetisation guidelines for videos that relate to the Ukraine War.
This is just one of the many fronts on which Russia has been cracking down on internet dissent. On 24 March, the Russian government blocked Google News for promoting what it considers false content about the invasion of Ukraine. Putin has also recently signed a law banning the publication of false content which can lead to fines of 400,000 rubles and 10-year jail terms.