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Russian court seizes Google property as YouTube lawsuit proceeds

Google campus in Mountain View, Calif., 2009. (Shawn Collins/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

 A court in Moscow has impounded property and frozen bank accounts of Google’s Russian arm as a guarantee against a possible court decision regarding a lawsuit filed against the U.S. tech giant by a subsidiary of Gazprom-Media holding.

The Moscow City Arbitration Court said on April 26 that it had ruled six days earlier to take over Google’s assets, which have a value of about 500 million rubles ($6.6 million).

Gazprom-Media’s subsidiary company, GPM Entertainment TV, is suing Google for its refusal to restore access to its YouTube channel. It is demanding financial compensation for the damages and wants access to its channel restored.

The lawsuit also names Google Ireland Ltd, Google LLC, and Google Commerce Ltd.

In early March, days after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Google blocked the YouTube channels of several Russian state-funded media outlets in Europe, and switched off the monetization program for Russian bloggers, including YouTube Premium and YouTube Music packages.

Kent Walker, Google’s president of global affairs, said in a blog post at the time when the channels were blocked that “in this extraordinary crisis we are taking extraordinary measures to stop the spread of misinformation and disrupt disinformation campaigns online.”

GPM Entertainment’s TNT and NTV YouTube channels were blocked at the time as well.