World’s largest music corp. closes shop in Russia
Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record label, has announced that it is suspending all operations and closing its offices in Russia. The music corporation joined a growing list of international businesses leaving the Russian market amid Moscow’s military offensive against Ukraine.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Dutch-US company urged an “end to the violence in Ukraine as soon as possible.” Universal Music Group added that it was “adhering to international sanctions,” while also working to “support humanitarian relief efforts to bring urgent aid to refugees in the region.”
Last Thursday, major audio streaming platform Spotify said it was shutting down its Moscow office indefinitely. On top of that, the streaming service vowed to remove all content of RT and Sputnik. Spotify, however, has not restricted access to the platform to Russian users.
Since Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine on February 24, a number of foreign performers, including Iggy Pop, Green Day, The Killers, Gorillaz, and Slipknot, have canceled their tour dates in Russia.
According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, Russia was among the top 20 global music markets as of 2020, with recorded music sales totaling $199 million that year.
A number of international businesses have ceased operations in Russia over the past two weeks, with McDonald’s, Starbucks, and OBI among them.
It is worth noting that many of these companies are so far only talking about temporary closures. Some Russian experts believe that their decisions may not be so much in support of Ukraine as expediency at a time when the national currency, the ruble, is highly volatile.
Announcing the decision to deploy troops to Ukraine in a televised address to the Russian people in late February, President Vladimir Putin claimed that neo-Nazi militias had permeated all levels of government in the neighboring country. He also accused Kiev of carrying out what he described as the “genocide” of the Russian-speaking population of the breakaway Donbass republics. According to Putin, NATO had been planning to drag Ukraine into the military alliance and build bases there. All of these factors forced Russia to take military action, the president said, with the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine being the main objectives of the operation.
Kiev and its Western allies, however, dismiss Putin’s claims as a pretext for “unprovoked” aggression against a sovereign state, claiming his real goal in Ukraine is the installation of a pro-Russian puppet government.