Google is about to announce the first bankruptcy in the company’s history, the division created to manage business in Russia being unable to receive and make any payments, after the accounts managed by local banks were essentially confiscated by the authorities.
While government officials in some European countries are jokingly or more seriously talking about confiscating Russian bank assets and using them for the purpose of rebuilding Russian-bombed Ukrainian cities, Eastern authorities are forcing foreign companies to remain captive. – sells its assets at ridiculous prices, under the threat of forced nationalization of the “abandoned” business.
According to the official statement, “difficult economic conditions” made it impossible for Google’s offices in Russia to operate, to pay local employees, to pay suppliers and business partners, and to pay other financial obligations.
Like many other Western companies that have chosen to expand into the Russian market in the past, Google is caught between a more or less express request to boycott Russian aggression against another European country by any means and the need to continue to operate as a commercial business. As if pressures from outside Russia were not enough, now the Kremplin Power has also taken concrete steps to completely block any commercial activities by the company perceived as an exponent of the overseas political opponent. Despite all the high barriers, the international branch of the company announces that Google will continue to offer essential services, such as Search, YouTube, Gmail, Maps and Android for consumers in Russia, for the time being.
Recently, Roskomnadzor, the militia set up to impose online censorship, asked YouTube to lift restrictions on Russian-media propaganda channels. Last month, a Russian television station announced the confiscation of 1 billion rubles (about $ 15 million) from Google funds, as compensation for refusing to restore access to the YouTube channels owned by that television.
Although Russia has taken almost all possible measures to stop its own access to Western news platforms and almost any other source of information that is not under the direct control of the Roskomnadzor censorship apparatus, the authorities are still hesitant to completely ban YouTube access. One possible explanation would be that the measure would arouse too much resentment among the general population, already deprived of most of the “benefits” associated with Western living. Apparently, 90 million of Russia’s 144 million people attend YouTube, and the complete blocking of the platform is a risky exercise, even by Kremlin power standards.