Netflix Reportedly Being Sued by Russian Subscribers

Russian Netflix subscribers are suing the streaming giant over its decision to temporarily halt service to the nation in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The company is one of dozens of Western corporations that has left Russia since the start of the invasion. The Russian economy is struggling with the massive impact of most foreign companies choosing to cease doing business in the country, and now the law firm Chernyshov, Lukoyanov & Partners is filing a class action suit against Netflix on behalf of subscribers, according to a new report at Deadline. The case has been filed in the Khamovnichesky district court of Moscow.

Even before pulling fully out of Russia, Netflix ran afoul of the country by refusing to add 20 Russian free-to-air channels, including Channel One. A law had been passed requiring streamers to comply, but Netflix cited concerns over the invasion of Ukraine as their reason for refusing to carry the channels, which are likely to carry official government propaganda. Entertainment Online Service, a subsidiary of National Media Group and part-owner of Channel One, run Netflix's Russian operations.

"The reason for the lawsuit was a violation of Russian users' rights due to Netflix's unilateral refusal to provide services in Russia," the firm said in a statement. The suit is seeking 60 million roubles ($724,000) in compensation.

According to the Deadline report, Netflix has fewer than 1 million subscribers in Russia and has been active there as a local-language service for less than one year. Besides terminating service to consumers, Netflix pulled out of all their Russian original productions earlier this year.

The streamer had four in the works at that time: the neo-noir detective drama Zato, an untitled series, Nothing Special, a drama about a young actor working at a charity for people with disabilities, and Anna K, a contemporary retelling of Anna KareninaAnna K had been set to be Netflix's first original series. Both Anna K and Nothing Special had completed filming in December. The untitled series was in the process of completing filming. While Netflix has less than 1 million subscribers in Russia, the streamer had been expanding its focus on international content due in part to the success of international series such as Lupin and Squid Game. The service hasn't been in Russia for long, either, having launched there in 2016.

Additionally, Netflix also recently announced that it was making its 2015 documentary Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom available to watch for free on YouTube. The documents follow the protests in Ukraine after former president Viktor Yanukovych opted not to sign an agreement with the European Union and instead strengthen ties to Russia. The protests eventually led to Yanukovych's ouster and led to Russian president Vladimir Putin using the overthrow as a reason to invade and annex the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.