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Spotify closes Moscow office, removes state-sponsored Russian content

The move is in response to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine

By Joe Goggins

A person holds their smartphone with the Spotify icon on the screen
(Photo: Pexels/cottonbro).

Spotify has closed its Moscow office in response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The streaming giant, which launched its service in Russia and Ukraine in July 2020, confirmed in a statement to Variety yesterday (March 2) that its base in the Russian capital will remain closed “indefinitely”. In addition, the company has removed all content from the Russian state-media channels RT and Sputnik, and has also moved to limit the discoverability of state-affiliated content.

However, access to the platform in general from within Russia continues as normal. “We think it’s critically important to try to keep our service operational in Russia to allow for the global flow of information,” they said in the aforementioned statement.

It comes after the platform launched a new guide for listeners to help steer them towards “trusted news” yesterday. In the UK, the link takes users to such sources as the BBC World Service’s ‘Global News Podcast, The New York Times’ ‘The Daily, The Wall Street Journal’s ‘The Journal’, The Guardian’s ‘Today in Focus’ and The Times’ ‘Times News Briefing’. 

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the unprovoked attack on Ukraine,” the streamer’s statement read. “Our first priority over the past week has been the safety of our employees and to ensure that Spotify continues to serve as an important source of global and regional news at a time when access to information is more important than ever.”

Spotify confirmed that they are continuing to offer individual support to employees within Russia, as well as to “our global community of Ukrainian employees.” They have also pledged to match donations from employees to local humanitarian efforts on the ground in Ukraine on a two-to-one basis. “We are exploring additional steps that we can take and will continue to do what is in the best interest of our employees and our listeners,” they said.

The move comes as part of a concerted effort from the world of music to push back against Russia in the wake of last Thursday’s (February 24) invasion. A number of artists have cancelled shows in the country, including Green Day, Iggy Pop, Yungblud, Louis Tomlinson, Franz Ferdinand, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and The Killers.