Google Suspends Sales on YouTube and Play Store in Russia

Unlike China, Russia still has access to Google, Gmail, and other services by Google. But only to free ones. As for paid subscriptions and apps, they are no more available. That’s how Google reacts to the Russian aggressive war in Ukraine. Though it seems like half-measures, indeed it hits the Russian economy.

The formal reason for this is restrictions laid upon commercial relationships with Russia by many countries, including the US. Recently it stopped selling advertising in Russia, on both Google and YouTube. And while many usual users may find this absence of ads even more comfortable, for businesses this may be a strong challenge. 

These restrictions by Google also apply in regions formally or effectively occupied by Russia, including Crimea and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. This measure also implies that refunds are virtually impossible. In case a user moves from a sanctioned region, they can apply for a refund, but reviewing the application may take a long time. 

As for free apps, they remain available in Russia, as well as free services by Google. Previously bought apps remain available, and subscription-based services will function until the expiration date. At the same time, the Palo Alto corporation has removed Russian state propaganda apps Sputnik and RT Today from Play Market and their channels from YouTube in Europe, following the regulation of the European Union. The response from Russian authorities to such actions can be hostile, to nobody’s surprise.

Two days ago Roskomnadzor, the censorship unit of Russia, effectively banned Instagram, despite its extreme popularity in the country. This means that things can get harder between Russian authorities and Google. How far can it go? If you have some thoughts about this cyber battle, you can share them in our comments!

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