The Russian invasion of Ukraine has dominated the news ever since it began in February. In the following weeks, the United States and its NATO partners imposed a range of sanctions on Russia, with western companies also ending their business in the country. One such company was Netflix.
On March 6, Netflix announced it was suspending its service in Russia in protest over the invasion of Ukraine, having already announced just days earlier that it was pausing all future projects in the country. At the time of their announcement, the company had four Russian originals planned, including a crime thriller from Dasha Zhuk. “Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia,” Netflix spokesperson Emily Feingold said in a statement. Bloomberg estimated that Netflix had approximately one million subscribers in the country.
However, Netflix’s decision to abruptly end service may mean legal trouble. According to Reuters, the law firm Chernyshov, Lukoyanov & Partners are launching a class-action suit against the company, citing rights violations.
“Today, a law firm representing the interests of class-actions filed a class-action lawsuit against the American Netflix service with the Khamovnichesky District Court of Moscow,” the firm said. “The reason for the lawsuit was a violation of Russian users’ rights due to Netflix’s unilateral refusal to provide services in Russia.”
Grigory Chernyshov is ranked as a Leading Lawyer for Dispute Resolution and Antitrust by Chambers Europe and the Legal 500 EMEA. He has represented major Russian and international companies in corporate conflicts. He has been nominated for the Medal of Order of Merit for the Motherland in recognition of his “significant contribution to the development of Russian competition and antitrust legislation.”
The subscribers behind the suit, who had been paying 599-799 roubles ($7.24-$9.66) a month, are now seeking 60M roubles ($724,000) in compensation from the streaming company.
Netflix joins Amazon, Apple and others in suspending service in Russia
Netflix was just one of the hundreds of Western companies to temporarily suspend their business in Russia or shut it down entirely. They were joined by companies like Amazon and Apple in boycotting Russia following its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
While Russia contends that the invasion is to “demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine” and protect the Russian-speaking people in the Donbas region, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Western allies have accused Russia and President Vladimir Putin of waging a war of aggression, war crimes, and even genocide.
At the time of writing, Netflix had yet to issue a statement on the matter.