Russia promised retaliation on Saturday after the shutdown of the YouTube account of the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, raising the possibility of a blockage in Russia of the video platform of the American giant Google. According to Google, the channel was shut down due to recent sanctions announced by the US government.
Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin claimed that the blocking of “Douma-TV” was a Washington measure that violated “the rights” of Russians. “The United States wants to have a monopoly on the dissemination of information,” he said on his Telegram account. “We cannot allow this.” AFP journalists in Moscow found that the account in question was no longer accessible on YouTube on Saturday.
“YouTube has signed its own condemnation”
According to Google, the channel was shut down due to recent sanctions announced by the US government. “Google is committed to complying with all applicable sanctions and trade laws. If an account violates our terms of service, we will take appropriate action,” a spokesperson for the group said in a statement sent to AFP. .
According to Moscow, the “Douma-TV” account had more than 145,000 subscribers on YouTube. It broadcast live broadcasts from parliament and interviews with Russian MPs. “YouTube has signed its own condemnation”, reacted the spokesperson for Russian diplomacy, Maria Zakharova, on Telegram, calling for the “rapid” transfer of YouTube content to Russian video platforms.
Access to Google also on hold
In recent weeks, in the midst of the conflict in Ukraine, YouTube has already been accused by Moscow of having blocked the accounts of pro-Kremlin media and Russian officials. The Russian telecoms policeman, Roskomnadzor, in March accused Google and YouTube of “terrorist” activities, foreshadowing a possible blocking in Russia of the site, as Twitter, Instagram and several other independent media have been since the offensive in Ukraine .
The Russian authorities have strongly increased their pressure and their legal arsenal to control communication on the conflict in Russia, threatening up to 15 years in prison the dissemination of “false information” about the Russian army. Roskomnadzor on Thursday banned Google from advertising its services in Russia after accusing YouTube of spreading “false information” about Russian forces.
Moscow wants to develop “Rutube”, the Russian competitor of YouTube
As in many other countries, YouTube is widely used in Russia, both by ordinary users for entertainment or information, but also by ministries or institutions to distribute their content. The platform is in particular a privileged tool of the imprisoned opponent Alexeï Navalny, who has disseminated multiple investigations there, viewed tens of millions of times, on the corruption of the Russian elites.
As early as 2006, Moscow launched a competing video service, Rutube, without much success. But its CEO assured Interfax on Friday that he had seen a “colossal” increase in the number of videos recently uploaded to the platform.