The Russian subsidiary of Alphabet’s Google intends to file for bankruptcy after authorities seized its bank account, the company said Wednesday, in an obvious escalation of the Kremlin’s drive to cut Russians off from facts about the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Google Russia filed an intent to declare bankruptcy after the seizure of its bank account made it “untenable” to meet its financial commitments, a Google spokesperson said in a statement to Forbes and other outlets.
A company spokesperson said Google will continue to operate free services including its search engine, YouTube and Gmail.
Google has been arguably Russia’s most significant foe in questioning the war narrative advanced by Kremlin-controlled media within the country since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Google suspended all advertising in Russia in March, banned state-run Russian media YouTube channels worldwide, and most critically has refused to dismiss the information on the war deemed illegal from Youtube. The Russian communications regulator has repeatedly threatened to punish Google for not deleting specific content, and Russia banned Google News in the country last month for publishing “inauthentic” information on the war.
“People in Russia rely on our services to access quality information,” the Google spokesperson said in a statement explaining the company’s intention to keep YouTube and other services running.
In addition to YouTube, the Russian government has another U.S.-based information foe: Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia has declined to delete information on the war, including details from the Ukrainian government on civilian and troop death tolls, causing the Russian government to threaten fines against Wikipedia. Russian President Vladimir Putin talk about the Kremlin’s war against Wikipedia earlier this month, telling Russians not to rely on the crowd-sourced online encyclopedia in an interview with state media.