Russian Netflix users are suing the streaming firm for suspending its service as a result of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Netflix, which has only about 1 million subscribers in Russia, suspended its services in March and has halted the development and acquisition of all Russian-made or commissioned TV shows and films.
A law firm has launched a class action legal action against Netflix, which has more than 220 million global subscribers, on behalf of Russian users who believe the decision to block access is a violation of their rights. The subscribers, who pay 599-799 roubles a month (£5.55-£9.26) to access content, from Bridgerton to Don’t Look Up, are demanding 60m roubles (£560,200) in compensation.
“Today, a law firm representing the interests of Netflix users filed a class action lawsuit against the American Netflix service with the Khamovnichesky district court of Moscow,” the law firm Chernyshov, Lukoyanov & Partners said, according to a report by the news agency RIA. “The reason for the lawsuit was a violation of Russian users’ rights due to Netflix’s unilateral refusal to provide services in Russia.”
Netflix had not yet responded to a request for comment.
In February, Netflix said it would refuse to carry the 20 Russian free-to-air propaganda channels that service providers were meant to host under a new law to be introduced on 1 March. “Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” the company said at the time.
In December, the Russian media regulator, Roskomnadzor, added Netflix to its register for audiovisual services because it was reaching more than 100,000 subscribers.
Last month, amid the Kremlin’s sweeping crackdown on western social media, a Russian court banned Facebook and Instagram in the country, labelling the platforms’ parent company, Meta, “extremist”. Access to Facebook and Instagram had already been restricted earlier in the month after Meta confirmed it was relaxing its policies on hate speech towards Russian soldiers and Putin in relation to the war in Ukraine. Meta later said the laxer rules would apply only to people posting from Ukraine.