WORLD

Russia Fines Google $34 Million for Violating Competition Rules

Russia’s competition watchdog fined Alphabet’s Google 2 billion rubles ($34.2 million) on Tuesday for abusing its dominant position in the video hosting market, the regulator said in a statement.

The decision is the latest in a multi-million-dollar fine as part of Moscow’s increasingly severe action against foreign tech companies.

The Federal Antitrust Service (FAS) said the company had “abused its dominant position in the YouTube video hosting service market”, without providing further details.

The FAS said Google must pay the fine within two months of it going into effect.

Russia has imposed huge fines on Google’s Russian subsidiary in recent months. Last week, the court ordered payment of 21.1 billion rubles ($358.7 million) after prosecutors said the court had repeatedly refused to remove content that Russia deemed illegal, such as “fake news” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Since Moscow launched what it called a “special military operation” in Ukraine, it has also accelerated attacks on Western domestic technology companies to tighten its grip on cyberspace, including by supporting domestic companies to drive out Western rivals.

Gazprom Media – a media group linked to state-owned gas giant Gazprom – has been heavily promoting RuTube, Russia’s YouTube alternative, which has seen a sharp uptick in traffic since February.

YouTube, which has globally blocked Russian state-backed media, is facing intense pressure from Russia’s communications regulator and politicians.

Google stopped selling online ads in Russia in early March but kept some free services. Its Russian subsidiary officially filed for bankruptcy after authorities seized its bank accounts and were unable to pay employees and suppliers.

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