Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor on Wednesday threatened to restrict access to YouTube after the video-sharing platform blocked two German-language channels of state broadcaster RT.
The move comes amid an escalating standoff between foreign tech giants and the Kremlin as Russia seeks greater control over content available online to its domestic audience.
The US video-sharing platform told German media on Tuesday that it had issued a warning to RT for violating its coronavirus disinformation guidelines and then shuttered two channels for breaching user terms.
Roskomnadzor said it had sent a letter to YouTube’s owner Google “demanding that all restrictions be lifted” from the two channels – RT DE and Der Fehlende Part – “as soon as possible.”
It added that the restrictions “violate the key principles of free dissemination of information” and are an “act of censorship against Russian media”.
Roskomandzor said YouTube could be issued with a warning and “the law provides for measures of full or partial restriction of access” if such warnings are ignored.
Earlier on Wednesday, Russia’s foreign ministry accused YouTube of an “unprecedented act of media aggression” which it said was likely aided by German authorities.
“The adoption of symmetrical retaliatory measures against German media in Russia… seems not only appropriate, but also necessary,” the ministry said in a statement.
“We believe these measures are the only possible way to stimulate our partners’ interest in a constructive and meaningful dialogue around this unacceptable situation,” it said.
Russia has recently been ramping up pressure on foreign tech giants as it seeks greater controls over content available online to its domestic audience.
Ahead of parliamentary elections this month, Russia’s media watchdog blocked dozens of websites linked to Navalny, whose organisations were banned in Russia under “extremism” legislation.
Courts have slapped non-compliant platforms, including Twitter, Google and Facebook, with a series of fines and in March started throttling the speed of Twitter’s services.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)