Russia fines Amazon over banned content for first time

Signage is seen at an Amazon facility in Bethpage on Long Island in New York, U.S.

(Reuters) – A Moscow court on Tuesday said it had fined Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) 4 million roubles ($65,000) for failing to remove banned content relating to drug use and suicide, the first such penalty in Russia for the U.S. tech giant.

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

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

Interfax news agency reported that Amazon’s fines concerned content about the distribution of drugs and information about how to commit suicide.

Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

Twitch has been fined before, for hosting video interviews with Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, that Moscow said contained “fake” information.

On Tuesday, the state news agency TASS reported that one of the two 4-million-rouble penalties for Twitch concerned the broadcast of a new interview with Arestovych, conducted by a Russian lawyer who has been designated a ‘foreign agent’.

Twitch did not respond to a request for comment, but TASS quoted Twitch’s lawyer as saying that the offending videos had been deleted by the time the cases were considered by the court.

Meta Platforms Inc. (META.O) was found guilty of carrying out “extremist activities” and its social networks Facebook and Instagram were banned, while Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Google has been fined for a string of alleged offences and its Russian subsidiary has filed for bankruptcy.

Russia’s 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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