Russia fines Amazon for content banned for the first time

MOSCOW — A Moscow court said on Tuesday it fined Amazon.com Inc. 4 million rubles ($65,000) for failing to remove banned content related to drug use and suicide, the first such sanction in Russia for the US tech giant.

Russia has fined other foreign tech companies for not removing content, part of what critics say is a Kremlin campaign to curb the influence of Western tech companies, especially since Moscow sent its armed forces to Ukraine.

The Tagansky District Court said it fined Amazon 4 million rubles in two separate cases, although its statement did not specify what the fine was. It also fined Amazon’s Twitch streaming service 8 million rubles, also for not removing banned content.

The Interfax news agency reported that Amazon’s fines were for content about distributing drugs and information about how to commit suicide.

Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

Twitch has previously been fined for hosting video interviews with Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which Moscow said contained “false” information.

On Tuesday, state-run TASS news agency reported that one of two 4 million ruble penalties for Twitch was for airing a new interview with Arestovych, conducted by a Russian lawyer who has been named “agent foreign”.

Twitch did not respond to a request for comment, but TASS quoted Twitch’s attorney as saying the offending videos were removed by the time the cases were heard by the court.

Meta Platforms Inc. was found guilty of carrying out “extremist activities” and its social networks Facebook and Instagram were banned, while Alphabet’s Google was fined for a series of alleged offenses and its subsidiary Russian filed for bankruptcy.

Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor on Tuesday demanded that Google restore access to the YouTube account of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, Russian news agencies reported.

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