Netflix, AMEX and two top accounting firms sever Russia ties

March 6 (Reuters) – Netflix, a global streaming entertainment service, top accounting firms KPMG and PwC and financial services firm American Express on Sunday cut ties with Russia as that country’s conflict with Ukraine escalated.

The latest fighting blocked efforts to evacuate 200,000 people from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol for a second day in a row on Sunday as Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to press ahead with his offensive. read more

Netflix Inc has suspended its service in Russia, a company spokesperson said. Earlier this week, Netflix temporarily stopped all future projects and acquisitions in Russia as it assessed the impact of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. read more

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“Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia,” the Netflix spokesperson said.

The announcements on Sunday follow a number of other Western companies including sneakers maker Nike Inc , Sweden’s home furnishing retailer Ikea, and France’s Birkin bag maker Hermes , who have closed shops or offices or ceased operations as trade restrictions and supply constraints have added to political pressure for companies to stop business in Russia.

Netflix had earlier said it had no plans to add state-run channels to its Russian service, despite a regulation that would require it to distribute state-backed channels.

American Express Co (AXP.N) said it was suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus.

The sun sets behind the skyscrapers of the Moscow International Business Centre, also known as “Moskva-City”, in Moscow, Russia April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

“In light of Russia’s ongoing, unjustified attack on the people of Ukraine, American Express is suspending all operations in Russia,” the credit card company said in a statement on its website. read more

Two of the Big Four accounting firms KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) said on Sunday they will no longer have a member firm in Russia due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The auditing and consultancy giant KPMG said its Russia and Belarus firm will leave the KPMG network, a move that will affect over 4,500 partners and staff in Russia and Belarus.

PwC also agreed PwC Russia will leave its network. The firm has operated in Russia for more than 30 years, and has 3,700 partners and staff there, it said.

“As a result of the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine we have decided that, under the circumstances, PwC should not have a member firm in Russia and consequently PwC Russia will leave the Network,” PwC said.

TikTok, the Chinese-owned video app, said on Sunday it would suspend live-streaming and the uploading of videos to its platform in Russia as it reviews the implications of a new media law signed on Friday by Putin.

“We have no choice but to suspend livestreaming and new content to our video service while we review the safety implications of this law,” the social media company said in a series of Twitter posts. It said in-app messaging would not be affected by the decision.

The US government on Saturday condemned the new law, which threatens jail terms of up to 15 years for spreading what the Kremlin describes as “fake news”. read more

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Reporting by Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru and Chris Gallagher in Washington, DC; writing by Anna Driver; editing by Diane Craft

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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