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Russian Subscribers Launch Class Action Lawsuit Against Netflix

In March, Netflix suspended its service in Russia in protest of the country’s unlawful and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. With this move, the streaming giant joined a growing list of western companies that have left since the start of Russia’s aggression. 

The law firm of Chernyshov, Lukoyanov & Partners is now launching a class action suit against Netflix. This motion was filed with the Khamovnichesky district court of Moscow on behalf of subscribers.

“The reason for the lawsuit was a violation of Russian users’ rights due to Netflix’s unilateral refusal to provide services in Russia,” the firm stated. They are seeking 60M roubles ($724,000 USD) for compensation. 

The streaming giant entered the Russian market less than a year ago. Russia only accounts for 1 million of Netflix’s total 222 million global subscribers. But this isn’t the first time they’ve butted heads with the local government. 

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Netflix refused to carry 20 free-to-air channels that they are required by law to host in Russia. This included Channel One. Entertainment Online Service, a subsidiary of National Media Group, runs Netflix’s Russian operations.  National Media Group is also a  part-owner of Channel One.  This made things a bit awkward when Netflix expressed concerns over the invasion of Ukraine. They listed those channels carrying government propaganda as a reason for the refusal. 

In addition to pulling services, Netflix also announced 2015 documentary “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” would now be available for free on YouTube. This documentary is about the protests in Ukraine after former president Viktor Yanukovych did not sign an agreement with the European Union. These protests led to Yanukovych’s dismissal. Russian President Vladimir Putin used this as a reason to invade and annex the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

The streaming platform will also be halting production on 4 Russian language shows. One was a detective drama called “Zato,” as well as an untitled series that is currently in production. Also, a show about a young actor working at a charity for people with disabilities called “Nothing Special,” which completed shooting in December. And “Anna K,” which is completed and slated to be Netflix’s first original Russian series. It is a modern day retelling of “Anna Karenina.”

You can watch “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” on Netfilx’s YouTube below.

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