Spotify, which suspended its paid subscription service in Russia earlier this month due to that country’s unprovoked and bloody invasion of Ukraine, has announced it will “fully suspend our service in Russia,” apparently indefinitely. It joins dozens of other music companies that have ceased operations in the country.
“Spotify has continued to believe that it’s critically important to try to keep our service operational in Russia to provide trusted, independent news and information in the region. Unfortunately, recently enacted legislation further restricting access to information, eliminating free expression, and criminalizing certain types of news puts the safety of Spotify’s employees and possibly even our listeners at risk. After carefully considering our options and the current circumstances, we have come to the difficult decision to fully suspend our service in Russia.”
Early this month the company closed its offices in Russia “indefinitely,” although most if not all employees continued to work from home. However, it did not initially disable access to its service within Russia. “We think it’s critically important to try to keep our service operational in Russia to allow for the global flow of information,” a Spotify representative said in a statement provided to Variety at the time. It also restricted the discoverability of Russian state-affiliated content on the streaming audio service., and removed all content from Kremlin-backed outlets RT and Sputnik from Spotify’s platform.
“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the unprovoked attack on Ukraine,” the Spotify rep said. “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.”
The audio-streaming giant said it is providing individual support to Spotify employees in the region as well as to “our global community of Ukrainian employees. ”In addition, Spotify is matching employee donations two-to-one to support local humanitarian efforts in Ukraine amid the Russian attack. “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,” the company spokesperson said.
Spotify launched service in Russia and Ukraine in July 2020, along with 10 other European countries.