Russia fines Google over Ukraine 'fakes', far-right content

Russia's communications watchdog said earlier it was taking steps to punish Google for "spreading fakes" on YouTube. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - A Russian court has fined Alphabet's Google 11 million roubles (S$190,000) for failing to delete what it terms "fake" information about the conflict in Ukraine and YouTube videos produced by Ukrainian far-right groups, TASS reported.

Russia's communications watchdog said earlier this month that it was taking steps to punish Google for "spreading fakes" on YouTube, and has previously warned the American company that it would be fined if it failed to comply, part of a wider battle with foreign tech firms and media to control information flows.

Google was found guilty of committing administrative violations and fined four million roubles and seven million roubles in two cases, Moscow's Tagansky District Court said on Thursday (April 21).

Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The TASS news agency said the fines pertained to what Moscow considers the distribution of inaccurate data about Russian troops losses and civilian casualties in Ukraine, as well as the distribution of video clips on YouTube produced by Ukrainian far-right groups such as the nationalist Azov battalion.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb 24 in what it called a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour's military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.

Russia has blocked some foreign social media firms, including Meta Platforms's Facebook and Instagram, with domestic firms looking to pick up the pieces. YouTube, though under increasing pressure from the Russian government, remains available.

The RIA news agency on Thursday reported that another case had been drawn up against Google for what it said was the distribution of videos on YouTube that called for terror attacks in Russia.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.