Google Fined Over Abortion Ads as Putin Pushes Values

Russia’s antitrust regulator is fining Google Inc. 100,000 rubles ($1,521) for advertising abortion clinics as President Vladimir Putin pushes what he calls “traditional values.”

One of the local clinics featured in a context ad in the Internet must also pay a penalty, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said on its website.

Putin has called for society to unite in the face of growing tensions with the U.S. and Europe over the past year, urging a return to “traditional values.” In 2013, he outlawed gay propaganda, raising an international outcry before the Sochi Winter Olympics, and imposed a ban on all advertising for services to terminate pregnancies. Russia should halve the number of abortions to boost demographic growth, Patriarch Kirill said Jan. 22 in a speech in parliament, during which he urged lawmakers to end insurance coverage for the procedure.

An Internet user had complained to Russia’s antitrust watchdog, saying Google’s text-based advertising service AdWords provides the names and contact information of several Moscow clinics after a keyword search in Russian for “abortion on the date of referral.”

“Google rules don’t allow to advertise goods and services related to premature pregnancy termination,” Alla Zabrovskaya, a Google spokeswoman for Russia said by e-mail. “Unfortunately, there are cases when unscrupulous advertisers are trying to bypass our rules. We are constantly working on improving our systems and make filters the most reliable.”

Russia has targeted U.S. businesses as geopolitical tensions over the deadly conflict in Ukraine, with the consumer-safety regulator temporarily closing several McDonald’s Corp. restaurants last year and lawmakers calling to restrict Hollywood movies.

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