Spotify will suspend access to its streaming services in Russia due to dramatic new restrictions on free speech in the country.
In early March, the Russian parliament passed a new law barring the government from sharing as “disinformation” about Russia’s operations in Ukraine. The new sanctions punish any speech that undermines the interests of the military, including describing the war in Ukraine with the word “war.”
Western news channels, including CNN, ABC and the BBC, have suspended their broadcasts and operations in Russia in response to the law, which can carry up to 15 years in prison. Although Spotify is primarily a music streaming platform, the company is increasingly investing in podcasts that cover politics and current events, a direction that has already generated a lot of controversy.
“Spotify believes it is important to maintain our service in Russia in order to provide reliable, independent news and information in the region,” said Spotify spokesman gaming-updates. “Unfortunately, the recent legislation that restricts access to information, disables free speech, and criminalizes certain types of news is protecting Spotify employees and perhaps even our listeners, putting it at risk.”
After considering several options, Spotify decided to “completely suspend” its services in Russia. This process will be completed after the company completes the logistics associated with the move in early April. Earlier, Spotify suspended premium subscriptions in Russia, although the free version of the app remained available.
As much of the world watches in horror, the Kremlin continues to tighten its grip on the flow of information, misrepresenting its actions last month as liberation efforts, not civilian deaths, not a bloody war of your choice. This pressure, and the lawsuits that accompany it, pose a serious danger to anyone in the country who shares a view of the invasion that is on the side of the Russian government.