Russia demands YouTube unblock German-language RT channel
Russia’s media regulator on Friday demanded that YouTube unblock a German-language channel of Russian state broadcaster RT, calling the move “destructive” censorship.
YouTube on Thursday had blocked a new RT channel after removing the network’s German channels RT DE and Der Fehlende Part earlier this year.
Previously known as Russia Today, RT said its newly launched “Auf Sendung” (On Air) channel was blocked without explanation.
YouTube told AFP it had blocked the channel because RT was trying to circumvent the earlier termination of RT DE and Der Fehlende Part with the launch of Auf Sendung.
On Friday, Russia’s state media regulator Roskomnadzor said it had sent a letter to YouTube demanding access to the channel be restored and an explanation of why it had been blocked.
“The letter notes that the destructive actions of the video hosting service are unprecedented, violating the key principles of free distribution of information and unhindered access to it,” Roskomnadzor said.
It added that it considers the move “an act of censorship, which is prohibited under the Russian constitution.”
Google-owned YouTube in September issued a warning to RT DE for violating its coronavirus disinformation guidelines and then shuttered two channels for breaching user terms.
The move angered Moscow, which accused YouTube of “censorship” and said the ban was likely aided by German authorities at a time of strained diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The latest incident comes amid tensions between Russia and Germany, after a Berlin court earlier this week sentenced a Russian to life in jail over a 2019 assassination on German soil it says was ordered by Moscow.
The ruling prompted Germany to expel two Russian diplomats. Moscow has told Berlin to expect retaliatory measures.