Spotify Suspending Services in Russia Following Restrictions

Spotify Suspending Services in Russia Following Restrictions
Broken Ethernet cable in front of Russian flag and Spotify logo in this illustration taken March 11, 2022. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)
Naveen Athrappully

Audio streaming platform Spotify has announced that it is suspending services in Russia as a response to the country’s newly imposed media rules.

“Spotify has continued to believe that it's critically important to try to keep our service operational in Russia to provide trusted, independent news and information from the region,” the company said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, recently enacted legislation further restricting access to information, eliminating free expression, and criminalizing certain types of news puts the safety of Spotify's employees and the possibility of even our listeners at risk.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in early March that will criminalize anyone sharing “deliberately false information about the actions of Russian military personnel in Ukraine.”

Following the bill’s introduction, multiple media outlets like CNN, The New York Times, and Bloomberg announced plans to suspend reporting activities in the country.

Spotify, which launched in Russia in 2020, had shut down its offices in Moscow earlier this month due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Since then, the company has been unable to sell premium subscriptions due to western sanctions and subsequent restrictions placed by payment providers.

In addition to Spotify, other entertainment services had also cut off ties with Russia in recent weeks. Warner Music Group announced that it was suspending its operations “including investments in and development of projects, promotional and marketing activities, and manufacturing of all physical products” in a March 10 news release. Music services like Sony Music and FUGA also announced pulling out from Russia.

Among global video streaming platforms, the Walt Disney Company plans to halt the release of new movies in Russia while also shutting down operations in the country. Netflix has also suspended services as well as halted future projects and acquisitions. Russia accounts for 1 million out of the platform’s 220 million subscribers worldwide.

A Russian court has banned Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, saying that these sites foment “extremist activities.