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Spotify pulls services from Russia, cites new law restricting news

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Spotify announced on Friday that it would fully suspend services in Russia because of the country’s new, restrictive law limiting journalism coverage. 

The company, which hosts political and social commentary podcasts on its streaming platform, told The Hill it expects services to be fully suspended by early April.

In a statement, a Spotify spokesperson cited Russia’s new law passed earlier this month, which prohibits news agencies and people from publishing “fake” news about the invasion of Ukraine.

“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,” the spokesperson said. “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.”

Earlier this month, Spotify joined a growing list of companies cutting back services in Russia. The streaming company stopped premium services in the country and closed its Russian office.

But Friday’s decision amounts to a full suspension of services in the country, which the spokesperson called a “difficult decision” to make.

Russia’s media law restricts outlets and people from even referring to the invasion of Ukraine as a war; instead, they must use the term “special military operation” or face up to 15 years in prison.

Because of the law, The Washington Post began removing bylines and The New York Times said it was pulling its journalists out of the country.

A Russian journalist who spoke out against the war this month was fined more than $250 and could face further charges.

Tags press freedom Russia Russia-Ukraine Spotify
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