Russia could ban YouTube after deleting two RT channels, it says spreading disinformation about COVID
YouTube could face restrictions in Russia after removing two German-language channels operated by Russian state-controlled RT.
YouTube said it removed the channels on Tuesday after violating its COVID-19 disinformation policy.
The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by accusing the Google-owned company of participating in an “information war” against Russia and threatening “retaliatory measures” against the German company and media.
According to YouTube’s COVID-19 Medical Disinformation Policy, the company does not allow content that “disseminates false medical information that contradicts local health authorities or World Health Organization medical information on COVID-19.” .
It also bans COVID-19 videos that present “a serious risk of flagrant harm.”
How did it all start?
RT’s German-language channel RT DE received a warning for uploading content that violated YouTube’s COVID disinformation policy, which prevented the channel from uploading videos for a week.
Meanwhile, RT tried to circumvent the download ban by using another German language channel, “Der Fehlende Part”, which translates to “the missing part”.
“As a result, both channels were shut down for violating YouTube’s terms of service,” a YouTube spokesperson said.
Following the channel cuts, RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan went on the offensive, calling YouTube’s decision “a real media war declared by the German state against the Russian state”.
Simonyan also called on Russia to sanction YouTube, ban German media and shut down the Moscow offices of German broadcasters ARD and ZDF.
Euronews Next has asked YouTube for comment.
Russian Foreign Ministry threatens retaliation
In a press release published on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry called YouTube’s actions an “unprecedented news assault.”
“This obvious manifestation of censorship and suppression of freedom of expression cannot and will not be taken into account,” he added.
The ministry accused YouTube of colluding with German authorities to “silence sources of information that do not correspond to what German officials consider a comfortable media landscape.”
He said he asked the Russian authorities to draft and implement “retaliatory measures against the YouTube video hosting service and the German media”.
Russian state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor demanded that Google restore access to RT’s YouTube channels and threatened the platform with fines and a ban if it did not.
In Berlin, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the government had “taken note” of YouTube’s decision, but denied any role.
“Since there are different accounts, especially on Russian channels, I want to say in clear terms that this is a decision of YouTube, and the German government, or representatives of the German government, have nothing to do with this decision, ”Seibert told reporters.
“So whoever claims this is constructing a conspiracy theory.”
Siebert added that the calls for retaliation against the German media were unwarranted.
“Anyone who calls for such retaliation … is not showing a good relationship with press freedom, from our point of view,” he said.
German security services said they viewed RT’s German service as a propaganda arm of the Russian state.
RT, formerly known as Russia Today, offers its German offer online but so far has no license to broadcast in Germany via a terrestrial or satellite signal.