Russia said this month it was seeking to fine US technology giant Google a percentage of its annual sales in Russia for repeatedly failing to remove content deemed illegal, Moscow’s strongest effort yet to rein in foreign technology companies.
Roskomnadzor communications organization said Roskomnadzor Google has failed to pay 32.5 million rubles ($458,100) in fines imposed so far this year and is now seeking a fine of 5-20 percent of Google’s Russian sales, which could amount to $240 million.
Russia has stepped up pressure on foreign technology companies as it seeks greater control over the country’s internet.
This has slowed Twitter’s platform since March. It has also routinely fined others for content violations.
Opposition activists accused Google and Apple of bowing to Kremlin pressure after they removed the tactical anti-government voting app from their stores.
Roskomnadzor said in October it was asking the court to impose a fine on social media company Facebook. Citing legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin in December 2020.
“We are filing a similar case in October against Google,” Roskomnadzor said in comments via email to Reuters. Noting that the company also owns YouTube to host the video.
Russia pursues Google with sanctions
The Spark Business Database showed that the turnover of Google in Russia in 2020 amounted to 85.5 billion rubles. The fine ranges from 5 to 20 percent between 4.3 and 17.1 billion rubles.
The search giant is currently fighting a court ruling requiring it to unblock the YouTube account of a sanctioned Russian businessman or face a double fine on its total sales, which doubles each week and forces the company to stop operating within months if paid.
Tsargrad TV, a television channel owned by the sanctioned Russian businessman, said it had abandoned talks with the company to unblock her YouTube account. The American group was accused of slowing down the negotiations.
The US company is subject to a Moscow court order obligating it to unblock Tsargrad TV’s YouTube account. It is an Orthodox Christian channel owned by Konstantin Malofeev, who is subject to financial sanctions from the United States and the European Union.