Pro-Russian authorities in the occupied regions of eastern Ukraine have banned Alphabet’s Google search engine, accusing the U.S. tech giant of promoting “terrorism and violence against all Russians.”
The move, announced by Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in east Ukraine, comes just days after Russia slapped Google with a $377 million fine for failing to regulate prohibited content.
In a statement posted to the social messaging service Telegram, Pushilin accused Google of being a leading source of anti-Russian propaganda
“The inhuman propaganda of Ukraine and the west has long crossed all boundaries. There is a real persecution of Russians, the imposition of lies and disinformation,” he wrote, arguing that Google “openly, on the orders of its curators from the U.S. government, promotes terrorism and violence against all Russians and especially the population of Donbas [in eastern Ukraine].”
The DPR and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), another Russian-occupied region in eastern Ukraine, earlier banned Facebook and Instagram, following similar restrictions in Russia, which has cracked down on independent media in the wake of its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
Following the invasion, Russia effectively made any criticism of the war illegal. Even calling it a war — Moscow favors the euphemism “special military operation” — is a criminal offense.
On Monday, Russia fined Google 21.1 billion rubles, around $377 million, for failing to remove content about the Ukraine war that the country considers “fake news.” The ruling, from Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor, pointed to offending material posted to Google-owned video platform YouTube.
Google itself is not banned in Russia, though in March, in the wake of the Ukraine war, the Kremlin did block Facebook.