Spotify cancels launch in Russia for the 'foreseeable future'

Alexander Kubaneishvili, who was to lead Spotify's Russian division, is leaving the Swedish company

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The Independent Online

Music-streaming service Spotify has cancelled its launch in Russia – amid continuing unrest in the country.

According to the RBC news agency, Alexander Kubaneishvili, a former Google executive who was to lead Spotify's Russian division, is leaving the Swedish company.

Kubaneishvili reportedly wrote a letter to partners, in which he thanked all those who had been involved in the project and explained why it was being canned.

"I regret to inform you that Spotify refused to launch in Russia in the foreseeable future. There are several reasons - the economic crisis, the political situation, the new laws governing the internet," he said.

Kubaneishvili also said that he no longer works for the company. He told the Tass news agency: "My last official working day is 12 February. Speaking for myself, I can only confirm the fact that indeed, there will be no start-up in the nearest future."

Spotify was registered as a limited liability company in Russia in January 2014. It had originally planned to launch in the country in October, but the plans were postponed until this year – reportedly because an agreement had not been reached with partnering mobile operators.

 

Russia is currently the subject of Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. Fighting has increased in eastern Ukraine in the past few weeks and hopes of easing the situation faded after peace talks collapsed yet again on Saturday.

And last week Russia cut its key interest rate to 15 per cent – in a surprise move that came amid fears of a recession in the country.

Spotify is not the first firm to cease operations in Russia. In December Google said it was closing its engineering office in response to a new law that will force foreign companies to store all data about Russians on servers inside the country’s borders.

Due to be implemented in September 2016, the law, which authorities say will improve data protection, is seen by critics as an attack on social networks, on the power of public dissemination as well as on free speech.

President Vladimir Putin has referred to the internet as a CIA project and there has been widespread international concern that Russia is carrying out a programme of censorship like China.

Spotify was launched in 2002 by Swedish start up Spotify AB. As of January 2015 it had 60 million users with 15 million subscribers.

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