Google closing Russian office

Google will close its Russia-based engineering office, the search engine giant confirmed Friday.

Tech news site The Information initially reported the departure.

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“We are deeply committed to our Russian users and customers and we have a dedicated team in Russia working to support them,” Google said in a statement.

In recent months Russia has passed a series of increasingly draconian laws to control and monitor Internet access. Another recent law requiring companies operating in Russia to store data locally takes effect in September 2016.

ArsTechnica noted the data storage law has been used to exert pressure on tech companies in Russia. Several prominent Russian tech executives — including the founder of a Russian version of Facebook — have left the country as a result.

As fears of foreign government surveillance have grown following the disclosures by government leaker Edward Snowden, several countries have moved to store more data locally.

Google would not comment on whether Russia’s new laws were the impetus for its withdrawal.  

The U.S.-Russia relationship has been increasingly fraught because of disagreements over Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine. It has chilled cyber relations as well, slowing work in a joint cyber working group.