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Netflix, TikTok, American Express Suspend Services In Russia Over Attack On Ukraine


TikTok said it would continue to "evaluate the evolving circumstances in Russia." (file photo)
TikTok said it would continue to "evaluate the evolving circumstances in Russia." (file photo)

Netflix and TikTok suspended most of their services in Russia over Russia's crackdown on reporting about Russia's war in Ukraine.

The suspensions followed a decision earlier on March 6 by the U.S. charge card company American Express to drop its operations in the country due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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TikTok blocked new video posts and live-streaming, while Netflix said it was suspending its service but didn't provide additional details. The U.S.-based Netflix had already halted its acquisitions and its production of original programs in Russia.

TikTok said its action was aimed at keeping its employees and users safe and to comply with the country's new "fake news" regulations.

“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,” the company said on March 6 in an update to a statement issued two days earlier.

Netflix did not cite a specific reason for suspending its services. It said the decision reflected “circumstances on the ground." The company had said previously that it would not air Russian state TV channels.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has intensified a crackdown on media outlets and individuals who fail to uphold the Kremlin line on Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The Russian president on March 5 signed a law calling for sentences of up to 15 years in prison for people who distribute "false news" about the activities of the Russian armed forces and "discrediting the use of Russian troops."

TikTok, which is part of the Chinese tech company ByteDance, said its messaging service, a feature of the app, will not be affected. It also said it would continue to "evaluate the evolving circumstances in Russia to determine when we might fully resume our services with safety as our top priority."

TikTok spokeswoman Hilary McQuaide was quoted by AP as saying the TikTok app in Russia now appears in view-only mode and won't let people post or see new videos or livestreams. They can still see older videos but not if they came from outside the country, she said.

American Express's decision follows the decisions of Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal to suspend their Russian operations.

"In light of Russia's ongoing, unjustified attack on the people of Ukraine, American Express is suspending all operations in Russia," the company said in a statement on its website.

"We are also terminating all business operations in Belarus," American Express said.

American Express said its globally issued cards would no longer work in Russia at merchants or automatic bank tellers. In addition, cards issued by Russian banks in Russia would no longer work outside the country on American Express's network.

The invasion has drawn condemnation from around the world and sweeping sanctions imposed by Western countries taking aim at Russia's economy.

Pope Frances used his weekly address on March 6 to call for an end to the fighting.

"War is madness. Please stop," Pope Francis said, adding that "rivers of blood and tears" were flowing in Ukraine's war.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, RFE/RL's Russian Service, and AFP
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