Google is set to announce the first bankruptcy in the company’s history, with the division created to handle business in Russia unable to receive and make any payments, after accounts managed by local banks have been essentially confiscated by the authorities.
While government officials in some European countries talk jokingly or more seriously about confiscating Russian bank assets and using them to rebuild Ukrainian cities bombed by Russia, Eastern authorities are forcing foreign companies to remain captive. – sells its assets at derisory prices, under the threat of a forced nationalization of the “abandoned” company.
According to the official statement, “difficult economic conditions” have prevented Google’s offices in Russia from operating, paying local employees, paying suppliers and business partners, and meeting other financial obligations.
Like many other Western companies that have chosen to expand into the Russian market in the past, Google is caught between a more or less express request to boycott Russian aggression against another European country by all means and the need to continue to operate as a commercial enterprise. As if pressure from outside Russia were not enough, the Kremplin power also took concrete steps to completely block any commercial activity by the company perceived as a representative of the foreign political opponent. Despite all the high barriers, the international arm of the company announces that Google will continue to offer essential services, such as Search, YouTube, Gmail, Maps and Android for consumers in Russia, for the time being.
Recently, Roskomnadzor, the militia set up to impose online censorship, asked YouTube to lift restrictions on Russian media propaganda channels. Last month, a Russian television channel announced the confiscation of 1 billion rubles (about $15 million) of funds from Google, as compensation for refusing to restore access to YouTube channels belonging to this television.
Although Russia has taken almost every possible step to shut down its own access to Western news platforms and almost any other source of information that is not under the direct control of Roskomnadzor’s censorship apparatus, authorities are still reluctant to completely ban access to YouTube. One possible explanation is that the measure would cause too much resentment among the general population, already deprived of most of the “benefits” associated with Western life. Apparently 90 million of Russia’s 144 million people frequent YouTube, and shutting down the platform altogether is a risky exercise, even by Kremlin standards of power.