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Russia fines Google additional $34m for abusing its dominant position

Russia’s competition watchdog fined Google two billion rubles (about $34 million) for violating fair competition rules.

Moscow has lately been taking an assertive stance against international tech giants. This fine comes only as a part of many multi-million dollar fines previously imposed on Google and other tech companies.

Earlier this month, Russia fined Google an unprecedented 21 billion rubles (over $387 million) for failing to remove “illegal content” from Youtube, which, according to Roskomnadzor, remains a key platform for “spreading fakes” about what Russia calls a special operation in Ukraine.

The alleged illegal content included, according to the watchdog, discrediting Russian military forces, promoting extremism and terrorism, calling for minors to participate in unauthorized protests, and videos promoting an "indifferent" attitude to the life and death of children.

Youtube has been consistently involved in combating disinformation surrounding the war in Ukraine on its platform, removing 9,000 channels and 70,000 videos since February. Some of the removed channels include Russian state-owned news sources, such as RT and Sputnik.

"As soon as the war broke out, we realized this was an incredibly important time for us to get it right with regard to our responsibility. We made a number of really tough decisions. One of them involved how we handle Russian state-sponsored media," Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, said during the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.

Although Russian officials repeatedly denied plans to block Youtube, Igor Ashmanov, a member of a State Duma-based Digital Economy Council, said that YouTube could be blocked in Russia by fall. This, according to him, will be possible as soon as Russian alternatives, such as Rutube, start “working properly.”

“We need to rely on the fact that [YouTube] will still be blocked. The owner just got fined yet again for not removing [prohibited] content. It will eventually end. I think this will end by the fall, when Rutube starts working normally, video in VKontakte becomes more or less independent hosting. When these services begin to function normally, [YouTube] will be replaced", he allegedly said.

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