It looks like trouble is brewing in Russia, where Google is set to file for bankruptcy due to the seizure of its assets. Since the seizure, the company claims that it has been unable to pay its staff, suppliers, and vendors. It is believed that roughly 1 billion roubles or around $15 million have been seized. As for Google personnel working in Russia, the company had moved its employees out of the country when Russia sent troops into Ukraine.
Russia initially fined Google around $112 million
According to Reuters, Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. has had problems for months leading up to the seizure of its assets. Russian authorities had previously requested the removal of content it deemed illegal from YouTube. This occurred sometime in December, with Russia fining Google 7.2 billion roubles or around $112 million. The fine was later increased by 506 million roubles or around $7.8 million. This fine was monumental, as it was the first of its kind in Russia.
Since Google did not pay, Russia seized its bank accounts, leading to the aforementioned plans to file for bankruptcy.
A Google spokesperson stated:
,The Russian authorities (sic) seizure of Google Russia’s bank account has made it untenable for our Russia office to function, including employing and paying Russia-based employees, paying suppliers and vendors, and meeting other financial obligations.,
Despite the impending declaration of bankruptcy, Google’s free services in the country will continue to operate like normal. This will include the likes of Gmail, Google Maps, Android, and the Google Play Store. This is at a time when many other major digital and physical services have either stopped working or have been blocked in the country. Despite YouTube still hosting what Russian authorities deem illegal, the service will not be shuttered and will continue to operate as normal. Maksut Shadaev, the minister of communications and mass media, stated that “we are not planning to close YouTube” with the main reason being that it did not want its users to “suffer”.