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Netflix halts all Russian productions after public outrage – POLITICO

US streaming giant Netflix immediately “severed” its involvement in the Russian television and film market amid mounting public pressure to scale back its presence in the country.

A person close to Netflix confirmed to POLITICO on Thursday that the company has “paused all future projects and acquisitions from Russia” while the company continues to assess the “impact” of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In practice, the decision means that the four Russian-language series that were either in production or post-production will now be suspended until further notice.

These include the series Anna K and Nothing Special, which began filming last December and have been in post-production ever since. Filming of the series Zato, created by Belarusian filmmaker Darya Zhuk, has been put on hold, as has another series called Untitled.

The move comes after the company publicly confirmed on Monday that it would not comply with Russia’s so-called Vitrina TV law. The rules, which would apply to Netflix from March 1, force “audiovisual” companies to carry at least 20 state-backed channels, including Kremlin-affiliated Channel One, whose board includes certain Vladimir Putin insiders – including the the President’s top spy chiefs Sergey Naryshkin and Alexey Gromov, Putin’s first deputy chief of staff.

Prior to Netflix’s decision to defy the rules, there had been an outburst of public outrage online at the company’s reluctance to commit to a cohesive stance on Russia amid ongoing incursions by Russian forces into Ukraine. Hashtags on Twitter #netflixstopsupportingrussia and Cancel #Netflix had attracted thousands of retweets. Users have posted screenshots of their interactions with Netflix’s customer service team, with the US streaming company saying it wants to take an “impartial” position.

Netflix has invested in the Russian market in the past through local partnerships, such as with the country’s National Media Group (NMG). praised as a “game changer” that would “set new standards for foreign streaming services in Russia.”

Russia’s communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, has not yet responded to POLITICO’s request for comment. It remains unclear whether Netflix will face government retaliation for its disregard of the country’s audiovisual rules.

However, Netflix’s opposition to Russia’s attempts to use it as a platform for distributing state-sponsored content has been welcomed by some Western politicians.

EU Internal Markets Commissioner Thierry Breton spoke to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Tuesday, praising the company’s decision to refuse to broadcast the 20 state-run channels after fears surfaced that the platform would be used as a springboard to spread Kremlin-related disinformation .

“Media regulators, telecom operators, streaming services, online platforms – everyone has their role to play in countering the Kremlin’s wartime propaganda,” Breton said after meeting Hastings.

This article is part of POLITICSPremium Tech Policy coverage: Pro Technology. Our expert journalism and suite of policy intelligence tools enable you to seamlessly search, track and understand the developments and stakeholders shaping EU tech policy and driving decisions that impact your industry. E-mail [email protected] with the code “TECH” for a free trial.

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