BERLIN – (AP) – YouTube has said it has shut down two German channels of Russian state broadcaster RT over alleged coronavirus disinformation, a move that prompted threats of reprisal from Russia on Wednesday .
YouTube, which is owned by Google, said the German branch of RT received a ‘strike’ for uploading material that violated YouTube’s standards on COVID-19 disinformation, and as a result has been suspended from uploading new videos on his channel.
âDuring this suspension, RT DE attempted to circumvent this restriction by using another YouTube channel to upload its videos,â which resulted in the shutdown of both channels for violating YouTube’s terms of service, he said. he adds.
Writing on the Telegram messaging app, RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan called the move Germany’s “real media war” against Russia.
“I look forward to my home state immediately banning Deutsche Welle and other German media in Russia, as well as the closure of the offices of ARD and ZDF,” said Simonyan, referring to major public television channels. German. “Not to mention the sanctions on YouTube.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov compared YouTube’s decision to censorship.
“There are indications that Russian laws have been violated, violated quite crudely,” he said.
When asked if he thinks companies operating in other countries, like YouTube in Germany, should follow Russian laws, Peskov replied: “Of course, when it comes to violating the rights of our legal entities, in addition to our media. “
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it would ask relevant government bodies to devise retaliatory measures against German media and YouTube, adding that such a response was “not only appropriate, but also necessary.”
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.
“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 anyone who claims this is constructing a conspiracy theory. “
“There is absolutely no reason for … ‘retaliation’ against German media working in Russia,” he added. “Anyone who calls for such retaliation … is not showing a good relationship with press freedom, from our point of view.”
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.
Luxembourg last month rejected an application by RT for a license to distribute its German-language service by satellite. The country’s authorities concluded that Luxembourg was not the right jurisdiction to rule on the claim because the German RT service is based in Berlin and a significant part of its workforce is located in Germany.
Daria Litvinova in Moscow contributed to this report.
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