Russia’s censor threatens to block YouTube for taking down another German RT channel

Russia’s censorship agency is threatening to restrict access to YouTube after the video platform shut down yet another German-language channel run by the Russian state-controlled television network RT (Russia Today).

According to a Roskomnadzor press release published on Friday, December 17, the federal censor sent a letter to YouTube’s parent company, Google, demanding that it lift restrictions on RT auf Sendung and explain why the channel was blocked immediately after it came online on Thursday. 

Roskomnadzor decried YouTube’s actions as an “act of censorship,” noting that this is prohibited under the Russian Constitution. The agency also recalled that under Russian law, YouTube could be deemed involved in human rights violations, added to a special registry, and issued a warning from Roskomnadzor.

“In the event that the owner of the resource fails to comply, the law provides for measures of partial or complete restriction of access, as well as administrative liability,” the agency added.

According to Roskomnadzor, YouTube has restricted access to Russian media outlets and their content 25 times since the start of 2020, allegedly targeting RT with blocks more often than others.

In late September, YouTube permanently shut down two German-language channels run by RT — RT Deutsch (RT DE) and Der Fehlende Part (DFR). Google later explained that the channels were taken down for violating YouTube’s terms of use. Specifically, for uploading content that violated the platform’s rules on false information about COVID-19 and then, while under a suspension, trying to use another channel to bypass restrictions. 

Commenting on the situation, RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan called on the Russian authorities to ban Deutsche Welle and other major German news outlets. “I’m keeping quiet about sanctions against YouTube itself,” she added. In turn, Russia’s Foreign Ministry threatened to take “retaliatory measures” against YouTube and unspecified German media. 

Created to broadcast Russia Today’s German coverage, RT DE’s new YouTube channel RT auf Sendung was launched on Thursday, December 16. YouTube shut down the channel that same day for violating its terms of use — namely, for bypassing previously imposed restrictions. As Google’s press service explained, the owner of a deleted channel is not allowed to use, own, or create any other channels on YouTube. 

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