Moscow is angry at the suspension of Germany’s Russia Today channels for spreading misinformation about the Corona virus.
Russia’s communications watchdog threatened to shut down YouTube on Wednesday. If the video company of the Internet giant Google does not agree to lift the suspension of the German channels of Russian state broadcaster Russia Today (RT), access to YouTube may be restricted in Russia and Google may be fined. Berlin has already informed Moscow that it will not retaliate against the German media.
The Russians are particularly interested in RT DE and Der Fehlende Part (“The Missing Part”). Both channels were suspended on Tuesday for violating internal regulations. For example, they spread misinformation about the coronavirus and wanted to circumvent the download suspension. After Youtube revoked RT DE’s rights to publish videos for a week, the Russians tried to distribute the same material through Der Fehlende Part.
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RT, which not only has channels in English and German but also in Spanish, French and Arabic, is on a collision course with governments in many countries due to the manipulative information it disseminates. In Lithuania and Latvia, television broadcasting has been banned, and UK media regulators have threatened to withdraw the broadcasting license in the past. In the US, RT had to register as a “foreign agent”.
Facebook said earlier this year that it had removed hundreds of accounts that were part of an orchestrated disinformation campaign from Russia. Among those influencers who spread the conspiracy theory that corona vaccines could turn people into monkeys.
YouTube’s refusal to lift the suspension of German channels constitutes a violation of Russian law, according to the communications watchdog, and “such actions can be considered a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms and therefore be the subject of an official warning.” The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a press release that it considered the video site’s decision an “unprecedented act of media aggression by YouTube,” according to a press release. It is “obvious” to the Russians that the German authorities “encouraged, even urged” this decision. They see the comment as a “media war against Russia” and argue that “symmetric retaliation against the German media in Russia seems not only appropriate, but necessary.”
From Berlin, government spokesman Stephen Seibert already responded that the German government “has nothing to see” with YouTube’s decision. Seibert also warned that anyone calling or speaking of reprisals “shows no respect for press freedom.”
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