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Russia warns of reprisals after YouTube blocks parliament channel

YouTube has blocked the channel of Russia’s lower house of parliament due to US sanctions. — AFP file pic

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MOSCOW, April 8 — Russian officials today warned of reprisals after US video hosting service YouTube blocked the channel of the lower house of parliament due to US sanctions.

Thinly veiled threats to ban YouTube in Russia came on the 45th day of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine, with thousands killed and more than 11 million having fled their homes or the country.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker at lower house of parliament, the State Duma, said Washington was breaching the rights of Russians.

“The United States wants to have a monopoly on the diffusion of information,” Volodin said on messaging app Telegram. “We cannot allow that”.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said “YouTube has sealed its fate”.

Zakharova urged Russians to transfer their content from YouTube to Russian platforms. “And hurry up,” she added on Telegram.

AFP journalists confirmed that the channel was inaccessible.

Google confirmed that it had “terminated” Russia’s State Duma YouTube channel due to recent US sanctions.

“Google is committed to compliance with all applicable sanctions and trade compliance laws,” a Google spokesperson told AFP in a statement.

“If we find that an account violates our terms of service, we take appropriate action.”

Moscow says that Duma-TV has more than 145,000 subscribers. It airs clips of parliamentary debates and interviews of Russian lawmakers.

Russia has moved to block access to non-state media and information resources and fears are mounting that Google could be next in line for a ban.

On Thursday, Russia’s state communications watchdog said it would ban US internet giant Google from advertising its services in the country, accusing YouTube of spreading “fake news” about its military campaign in Ukraine.

The watchdog said Google-owned YouTube had committed “numerous violations” of Russian legislation and was “one of the key platforms distributing fake news about the course of the special military operation in Ukraine, discrediting the armed forces of Russia”.

The watchdog said it had decided to “introduce measures of coercion”, adding that these included “a ban on distribution of advertising for Google LLC and its information resources”. — AFP

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