Spotify reportedly scraps Russian launch plans

The music streamer Spotify was all set to plow into the Russian market, having poached a former Google exec, Alexander Kubaneishvili, to lead the offensive. However, that plan has gone out the window for now.

According to Russian broadcaster RBC, Kubaneishvili announced the pause on Monday, citing Russia’s political and economic situation, as well as pending Russian legislation about regulating the internet. Spotify will not launch in the country “for the foreseeable future,” he said, adding that he does not work for the company anymore.

According to TASS, the firm is also shutting down its Russian office in its infancy. RBC reported that Spotify’s Russian launch had already been delayed because it had failed to agree partnerships with local mobile operators, though TASS indicated some progress had been made with Vimpelcom. I asked Spotify for comment on all this, but the company refused to provide any.

Russia’s ruble is having a very rough time, largely due to the falling oil price and sanctions related to the country’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine and annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

Meanwhile, the country has also been pumping out various new laws designed to clamp down on internet freedom. The most relevant is probably Russia’s local data storage mandate, through which it intends to force web service providers servicing Russians to store their personal data in local data centers. This rule is set to come into force in 2016.

Google and PayPal join Crimea sanctions efforts

In the latest move by a U.S. tech firm to abide by sanctions on Crimea, Google will stop Android users on the peninsula from downloading apps from Google Play, according to Russian reports.

The freeze will reportedly commence at the start of February. Google will also stop Crimean residents from using AdWords or AdSense due to the export sanctions, but will still allow the use of Google’s free services.

EBay’s PayPal also said on Friday that it has stopped servicing residents of the Ukrainian peninsula, which was annexed by Russia last year, due to the sanctions levied by the U.S. and the European Union in December. Crimeans also can’t buy games from Steam due to Valve’s compliance with the sanctions.

Apple cut ties with Crimean app developers earlier this week, removing their products from the App Store and blocking their internal accounts. Google has not as yet officially said that Crimean developers can no longer put apps into the Play Store, but it’s hard to see how this could be allowed as the sanctions should nullify developer contracts and bar payments.

The registration of Russian bloggers has begun

The first to receive notices demanding that they join a censorship-happy register reportedly include prominent novelists and satirists, who are now expected to abide by the same rules as journalists on their blogs.