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Russia fines Google $374 million for letting the truth about Ukraine be told

Putin declares he'll make his own Googles now, thanks

A Russian court fined Google $374 million on Monday for its failure to remove prohibited content, according to the country's internet watchdog Roskomnadzor.

The Tagansky District Court of Moscow took exception to YouTube content it claimed contained "fakes about the course of a special military operation in Ukraine" and discredited Russia's armed forces. The court also claimed some material promoted extremism and/or terrorism. Google also stands convicted an "indifferent attitude to the life and health of minors" that the court feels are worthy of protest by Russian citizens.

The court also alleged Google systemically violated Russian law.

As punishment, Google users will receive warnings of the company's alleged misdeeds, and won't be permitted to buy ads tied to Google Search results or on YouTube.

Roskomnadzor said the amount of the fine was "calculated on the basis of the company's annual Russian turnover."

Google has regularly received fines from Russia, including one for $1.2 million for similar offenses last month. In April Google was fined $138,000 for alleged Ukraine-related propaganda.

The Tagansky Court regularly issues fines to big tech firms for offenses like improper data storage.

However, most of those fines are vastly smaller than the $374 million levied on this occasion.

Speaking to government officials via video conference on Monday, Putin reportedly said Russia would have to develop its own domestic technology and tech firms as the country would not be reversing course on progress.

"Not just restrictions but the almost-complete closure of access to foreign high-tech products is being deliberately, intentionally used against our country," said Putin.

As for Google, it has mostly left Russia except for free services like Google search, YouTube, Gmail, Maps, Android and Play. It wound down operations and paused all ads back in March this year. The company was forced to file for bankruptcy after authorities seized its bank account in May and it could no longer pay its bills and staff.

Just how Moscow plans to extract $374 million from the company is unclear.

Theoretically, Google can appeal the court's verdict and fine. The Register has asked the company to comment on the matter.

While we wait for that response, we'll bask in the irony of this being a very rare occasion on which Google evading a government demand for money feels about right. ®

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