Google has blocked Russian users from downloading paid apps via the Play Store. It is also blocking developers from publishing new paid apps or updating their existing paid apps. These moves come as part of its “compliance efforts” following the numerous sanctions on Russia. The change is in effect starting Thursday, May 5th, 2022.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered several actions on the country from the US, the EU (European Union), and the G7. The sanctions caused a “payment system disruption” across the country, forcing Google to make changes to its Play billing system for users in Russia.
On March 10, Google announced that Russian Android users would no longer be able to purchase apps and games via the Play Store. It paused the Play billing system in the country, effectively blocking users from making any in-app purchases, including subscription payments. The company said apps and games that have already been downloaded or purchased will remain accessible.
Up until now, developers could also publish and update their paid apps. The latest change now blocks that ability as well. As for existing user subscriptions, they will remain valid until the current billing cycle. After that, developers can offer a grace period of up to 30 days.
But with things likely not improving anytime soon, Google also suggests developers remove paid subscriptions from their apps in Russia. They can make the apps free for as long as the Play billing system remains paused in the country. This is particularly advised for apps that offer “a critical service to users that keeps them safe and provides access to information”. Alternatively, developers can defer payment renewals for up to one year.
As part of this change, Google has also removed the Top Paid and Top Grossing charts for apps and games in the Play Store in Russia. There’s no change to the “free” section of the Play Store though. The sanctions don’t affect the publishing, updating, and downloading of free apps and games in the country. The Top Free charts will also remain as they are.
Google has also blocked the Russian parliament’s YouTube channel
Over the past few months, several companies across the world have withdrawn their operations in Russia over the Putin regime’s atrocities in Ukraine. For its part, Google has cut off ties with the country’s central bank for its payment system. Additionally, the company has also blocked the Duma TV channel on YouTube. The channel streamed the lower house of parliament in Russia.