Google Play Store is blocking downloads and updates of paid apps in Russia

Russian residents will no longer receive new features and security fixes for applications they bought

The Russian attack on Ukraine has changed global trade in record time, with heavy sanctions having many businesses exit the Russian market. Among them is also Google, which has paused payments in the Play Store for those living in Russia in March, hindering them from purchasing new apps or subscribing to plans. In May, Google is going a step further, now preventing Russian residents from downloading and updating apps they’ve previously bought on the Play Store.

As spotted by 9to5Google, Google is preventing developers from rolling out updates to paid apps to Russian users citing “compliance reasons.” While it’s still possible to update and publish free apps in Russia, this move presents a next step in the crackdown on paid content and further severs financial ties with the country.


People who have previously purchased paid apps and don’t currently have them installed on their device will no longer be able to download them anymore, either.

It is likely that this decision was not easy for Google, and it is possible that the company was forced to this step due to the sanctions imposed on Russia. The new policy still feels draconic, though, given that no further transactions would have to be made by affected users to continue receiving a well-maintained product – after all, they have already paid for that privilege. Moves like these make it abundantly clear that you rarely ever really own digital products. At least Google isn’t revoking access to previously paid-for apps altogether, provided they have already been downloaded. Customers can keep using their purchased apps until they no longer work due to the lack of updates.

Google recommends that developers who want to offer critical services and provide information to residents should offer their apps free of charge instead and remove subscriptions “during this pause.”

The move follows a March 10 directive, which is the date when Google paused its billing system in the Russian Federation. This has already prevented users from purchasing new apps or subscribing to services via the Play Store. Existing subscriptions and trial periods are still supposed to be honored until the next or first payment is due, too.

Before the self-proclaimed “special operation,” Russian authorities had successfully coerced Google and Apple into taking down an app from prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny ahead of the Russian election. Employees were threatened with punishment if they did not act by armed forces deployed to local offices.

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