YouTube closes Duma account, Moscow promises retaliation

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RUSSIA – Russia promised retaliation this Saturday April 9 after the YouTube account of the lower house of the Russian Parliament was closed, reinforcing the possibility of a blockage in Russia of the video platform of the American giant Google.

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 launched on his Telegram account. “We cannot allow this.”

AFP journalists in Moscow found that the account in question was no longer accessible on YouTube this Saturday. According to Google, the channel was shut down due to recent sanctions announced by the US government.

Violation of Terms of Use

“Google is committed to complying with all applicable sanctions and trade laws. If an account violates our terms of use, we 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 spokeswoman for Russian diplomacy, Maria Zakharova, on Telegram, calling for the “rapid” transfer of YouTube content to Russian video platforms.

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, accused Google and YouTube of “terrorist” activities in March, foreshadowing a possible blocking of the site in Russia, as Twitter, Instagram and several other independent media have been since the offensive in Ukraine.

Rutube, Youtube’s competitor in Russia

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” on the Russian army.

Roskomnadzor on Thursday banned Google from advertising its services in Russia after accusing YouTube of spreading “false information” about Russian forces.

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 numerous 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.

See also on The HuffPost: Emotion, rest, advice and children’s games: The daily life of a center for Ukrainian refugees in Poland

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