Netflix suspends service in Russia, citing Ukraine invasion

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Netflix is suspending its service in Russia in response to that country’s invasion of Ukraine. The streamer joins a long list of companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Dell, AirBnB and the US film studios, that have halted operations in Russia, also citing the invasion. 

While it has been available in Russia since 2016, Netflix has a relatively small presence in the country with around a million subscribers. It had already paused production and acquisitions work in Russia last week, before also suspending its streaming service. It is understood that shooting on Netflix original Zato, a detective drama directed by Dasha Zhuk, has been halted. 

In February, Netflix had also refused a Russian government regulation to carry 20 state-owned broadcast channels on its service, also citing Ukraine in that decision. 

The streamer also said it would make its 2015 documentary Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom, about the Euromaidan protests, available to watch for free. The protests, which took place over the winter of 2013-2014, were sparked by former president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to not sign an agreement with the European Union. 

US studios including Disney, Warner Bros, Sony, Universal and Paramount have all said they will stop releasing films in Russia, following the Ukraine invasion. 

Cannes Film Festival has banned official Russian delegations from this year’s edition, while Toronto International Film Festival said it would it programme independent Russian films, while also banning government delegations. The European Film Academy said it would exclude Russian films from this year’s European Film Awards.

The Asia Pacific Screen Academy also said it has paused accepting Russian films into competition for the 15th Asia Pacific Screen Awards, and Russian delegations will not be permitted to attend the awards or accompanying Asia Pacific Screen Forum.