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Netflix suspends service in Russia over Ukraine invasion

The decision comes after the streaming service paused all Russian original projects

By Hollie Geraghty

A hand holds a phone with the Netflix app open
(Picture: Cottonbro/Pexels)

Netflix has suspended its service in Russia, becoming the latest media company to protest the invasion of Ukraine.

The streaming service last week announced that it would pause all future acquisitions and projects from Russia, but has now announced the service will shut down completely.

“Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia,” a spokesperson for Netflix told Variety.

Projects affected by the pause in production includes the platform’s first Russian original, ‘Anna K’, and detective series ‘Zato’, which had already begun filming.

The streaming service also announced that it would also make its 2015 documentary ‘Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom’, available to watch for free. It follows the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine, sparked by former president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision not to sign an agreement with the European Union.

Netflix has roughly one million customers in Russia, having launched in 2016.

Last week the platform also opposed a new Russian law by banning 20 free-to-air channels. Under the law, which was due to go into effect on March 1, Netflix would have been required to provide the 20 propaganda channels.

Disney, Sony and Warner Bros have also pulled theatrical releases in Russia, while Google, Facebook and Microsoft have limited access to Russian state-run networks like Russia Today.

TikTok has also restricted the use of the app in Russia in response to Russia’s criminalisation of spreading “fake news”.

“TikTok is an outlet for creativity and entertainment that can provide a source of relief and human connection during a time of war when people are facing immense tragedy and isolation,” the video sharing app wrote via a Twitter statement.

“However, the safety of our employees and our users remain our highest priority. In light of Russia’s new ‘fake news’ law, we have no choice but to suspend livestreaming and new content to our video service while we review the safety implications of this law. Our in-app messaging service will not be affected.”

It added that the situation would continue to be monitored to determine when services might fully resume.

Musicians including Yungblud and Green Day have also cancelled upcoming shows in Russia.

“I’m heartbroken to announce I will be cancelling my Russian shows scheduled for this summer,” Yungblud wrote in a statement.

“Heartbroken because I know the vicious and brutal acts of the Russian regime in Ukraine over the past week do not reflect the attitudes and ideals of the beautiful people who I have met in Russia in the past.”

While Green Day posted to Instagram: “With heavy hearts, in light of current events we feel it is necessary to cancel our upcoming show in Moscow at Spartak Stadium.”