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Google faces second turnover fine in Russia over banned content about Ukraine

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Google’s Russian subsidiary last week submitted a declaration of bankruptcy.

PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (REUTERS) – Alphabet’s Google faces a second fine of 5 to 10 per cent of its turnover in Russia for what the state communications regulator said on Wednesday (June 22) was a repeated failure to delete banned content, including “misleading information” on YouTube about events in Ukraine.

Russian bailiffs in May seized more than 7.7 billion roubles (S$198 million) from Google that it had been ordered to pay late last year – the first time Moscow had exacted a percentage of the company’s annual Russian turnover.

Google, whose Russian subsidiary last week submitted a declaration of bankruptcy, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The video-hosting site YouTube deliberately promotes the dissemination of misleading information about the progress of the special military operation in Ukraine, discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation,” said the regulator, Roskomnadzor.

It said the repeat offence could lead to a fine of 5 to 10 per cent of annual turnover in Russia, with the amount to be determined in court. Reuters calculated that the previous fine equated to just over 8 per cent of turnover.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb 24, saying it had to defuse a threat to its security and protect Russian-speakers from persecution.

It has also made it a criminal offence, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, to disseminate reports about the military campaign that deviate from official statements, which do not use the terms “war” or “invasion”.

Ukraine and the West dismiss Moscow’s justifications as baseless pretexts for a land grab.

Roskomnadzor also said YouTube had permitted content promoting extremist views and calls for children to participate in unauthorised protests.

Russia has issued numerous fines to foreign technology companies in recent years for a range of infringements, in what critics say is an attempt to exert greater control over the Internet.

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