The audio streaming company has announced the suspension of its services in Russia, with a statement referencing Russia’s new law that punishes the spread of fake news about the military as the primary reason for its action.
The new law signed by President Putin seeks to punish carriers of fake news with up to 15 years in prison. The rule also imposes fines or jail terms for spreading false information about the military, as well as fines for people who publicly call for sanctions against Russia.
The bill is also meant to punish people who knowingly “distort the purpose, role and tasks of the Russian Armed Forces, as well as other units during special military and other operations,” and this includes people who deliberately spread unapproved information about Russian war losses.
In a statement by a spokesperson to Spotify, the company citing the Russia ‘fake news law’ wrote:
“Spotify has continued to believe that it’s critically important to try and keep our service operational in Russia to provide trusted, independent news and information in the region”.
“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 possibly even our listeners at risk. After carefully considering our options and the current circumstances, we have come to the difficult decision to fully suspend our service in Russia.” The company expects for service to be fully suspended by early April,” the spokesperson who asked not to be named due to the ‘precarious situation in Russia’ said.
The company had earlier in the month yanked off content from Kremlin-backed outlets, RT and Sputnik and also closed its office in Russia but the latest announcement will further shut down the streaming service in the country. Spotify had also earlier this month affirmed that its paid subscription service would no longer be available in Russia.
A growing list of tech companies has halted operations in March since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, amidst other sanctions meted out to the Putin-led country.