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Moscow’s lawyers are targeting Western companies leaving Russia



(Reuters) – A Moscow law firm that has filed lawsuits against Apple and Netflix over what it says are consumer rights violations is aimed at “punishing” other Western companies that have left Russia, its senior partner told Reuters.

Many predominantly Western companies have said they will suspend or halt operations in Russia since President Vladimir Putin sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24.

Netflix stopped all future projects and acquisitions in Russia in March and shut down its streaming service. Apple restricted the use of its Apple Pay service and stopped all exports to its sales channels in Russia.

The law firm Chernyshov, Lukoyanov & Partners filed two class actions in April, claiming 60 million rubles ($ 948,61

7) in moral damages for Netflix users and 90 million rubles from Apple to reduce the functionality and value of their devices. These numbers may rise as more people join.

Netflix and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Konstantin Lukoyanov, senior partner with Chernyshov, Lukoyanov & Partners, who has invited offended Russians to lodge complaints against outgoing companies, said the number of potential claims had surprised him.

“We have only now realized how many consumers believe their rights have been violated,” Lukoyanov said in an interview. “Every day we get conversations with some new story.

“At the beginning of our trip, we thought there would be three, four or five big companies, but there are actually many more,” he said, declining to give specific names.

Lukoyanov said the aim of his company’s lawsuits was twofold – to set a precedent in Russia’s incipient tradition of class action lawsuits and to “seriously punish” companies that leave.

He expects Russia’s legal system to rule in favor of Russian consumers, but acknowledged that people can only hope for compensation if companies choose to come back some day.

“We expect companies to be forced to return to the Russian market and then have to close all accumulated claims before leaving,” he said.

Asked how genuine the lawsuits were, Lukoyanov said his company treated each case very carefully and seriously, and that if US users were suspended from Apple Pay, no one would be surprised by a class action lawsuit.

“I would not be skeptical of this whole story. It’s pretty serious. There are no jokes here.”


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