Spotify has made the “difficult decision” to fully suspend its services in Russia in response to its laws restricting free speech.

The streaming giant said the legislation, which “criminalised certain types of news” put its employees and listeners at risk.

Heavy censorship laws have been imposed in Russia which can result in prison sentences of up to 15 years for those spreading information contrary to the Government’s narrative on the war in Ukraine.

Spotify has continued to believe that it’s critically important to try to keep our service operational in Russia to provide trusted, independent news and information in the region,” a Spotify spokesperson said.

The Westmorland Gazette: Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo via PA Graphics. Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo via PA Graphics.

“Unfortunately, recently enacted legislation further restricting access to information, eliminating free expression, and criminalising certain types of news puts the safety of Spotify’s employees and possibly even our listeners at risk.

“After carefully considering our options and the current circumstances, we have come to the difficult decision to fully suspend our service in Russia.”

Other streaming and social media sites have taken similar action in recent weeks, with Netflix and TikTok suspending most of their services in the country earlier this month.

In early March, Netflix said it would pause all projects and acquisitions in Russia in response to the ongoing “humanitarian crisis” in Ukraine.

Netflix previously said it had “no plans” to carry 20 free-to-air channels in Russia that it could be required to by Russian law.

Some of the channels, which include news, sports and entertainment, are reportedly aligned with Russian authorities.

Other Hollywood-based entertainment giants, including Universal, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, The Walt Disney Company and Paramount Pictures have already announced that they are ceasing operations in Russia for now.

“In response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, Universal Pictures has paused planned theatrical releases in Russia,” a Universal Pictures spokesperson said.

Paramount Pictures announced that the highly-anticipated action comedy The Lost City – starring Channing Tatum, Sandra Bullock and Daniel Radcliffe – would not be shown in Russia.

Similarly, Paramount Pictures paused the release of Sonic The Hedgehog 2, featuring the voices of Idris Elba and Jim Carrey.

The film studios said: “As we witness the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, we have decided to pause the theatrical release of our upcoming films in Russia, including The Lost City, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

“We stand by all those impacted by the humanitarian crisis across Ukraine, Russia, and our international markets and will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds.”