Streaming giant Netflix has been hit with a class action lawsuit for leaving the Russian market, following Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Netflix in March announced that it was suspending its service in Russia and had temporarily stopped all future projects and acquisitions in the country as it assessed the impact of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia,” Netflix said at the time.

Netflix lawsuit

Netflix had launched its streaming service in Russia in 2016 and only had about 1 million users there, out of 222 million worldwide.

Variety last month reported that Netflix and its local partner National Media Group had four Russian original productions in development, one of which (crime series Zato) had shooting put on hold.

Now Reuters has reported, citing the RIA news agency, that Russian users of Netflix have launched a class action lawsuit against the streaming giant for leaving the Russian market.

The disgruntled users are reportedly demanding 60 million roubles ($726,000) 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”, RIA cited law firm Chernyshov, Lukoyanov & Partners as saying.

“The reason for the lawsuit was a violation of Russian users’ rights due to Netflix’s unilateral refusal to provide services in Russia,” the law firm reportedly said.

Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jurisdiction question

As the lawsuit was filed in a court in Moscow, it is not immediately clear what the legal action intends to achieve.

Netflix has no office or staff in Russia, and neither does it have any data centres in the country.

Indeed, since 2015 Netflix stopped using its own data centres and instead uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) for all its computing and storage needs.

AWS meanwhile has no data centres, infrastructure or offices in Russia either.

And Netflix is not alone in exiting Russia.

Large numbers of tech firms as well as other commercial entities have withdrawn from Russia after it launched its so called “special military operation” in Ukraine on 24 February.

Yesterday Nokia became the latest tech firm to announce it was leaving the Russian market for good, and not just suspending services there.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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