Russia demands YouTube restore RT’s German-language channel

The logo of Russia's state communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, is reflected in a laptop screen showing Youtube page in this picture illustration
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Russia's state communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, is reflected in a laptop screen showing Youtube page, in this picture illustration taken May 27, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

December 17, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s communications regulator said on Friday it had written to Google’s management team, demanding that access be immediately restored to the German-language YouTube channel of state-backed broadcaster RT.

Moscow is at odds with Alphabet’s Google on a number of issues, including disputes over banned content. On Thursday, a sanctioned Russian businessman claimed victory over Google in a court case that could see the tech giant hit with a heavy fine.

RT said its new channel ‘RT auf Sendung’ was blocked on Thursday, just five hours after its launch. RT cited Google as saying the new channel was deleted because it was created in violation of earlier restrictions placed on the outlet.

Russia in September threatened to block YouTube and the Kremlin called for “zero tolerance” towards the video hosting giant after it removed RT’s German-language channels from its site, saying they had breached its COVID-19 misinformation policy.

Google did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Russia’s regulator, Roskomnadzor, said on Friday it had written to Google on Thursday, demanding an explanation for the restriction and calling the ban an act of censorship.

On its community guidelines, YouTube says that people or institutions that have their channel terminated may be unable to use, own, or create any other YouTube channels or accounts.

It says channel owners are sent explanations for termination by email.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Mark Potter)