Russian officials on Saturday accused YouTube, owned by US giant Google, of suspending the account of the Russian parliamentary channel, promising retaliation that raised fears of a blockage of the service in Russia.
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Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has claimed that the YouTube channel of Russia’s lower house of parliament, Duma-TV, has been blocked, denouncing a move by Washington that violates “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 the platform on Saturday morning, with or without a virtual private network (VPN), a tool which makes it possible to avoid blockages.
According to Moscow, the Douma-TV account has more than 145,000 subscribers on YouTube. It broadcasts excerpts from parliamentary exchanges, interviews with Russian MPs and live broadcasts.
“In all likelihood, YouTube has signed its own condemnation,” spokeswoman for Russian diplomacy, Maria Zakharova, reacted on Telegram, calling for YouTube content to be transferred “quickly” to Russian video platforms.
In recent weeks, in the midst of the conflict in Ukraine, YouTube has already been accused on several occasions by Moscow of having blocked the accounts of Russian media and officials.
On Saturday, Russian telecoms policeman Roskomnadzor called on Google to “immediately” restore the Douma-TV account.
Roskomnadzor already accused Google and YouTube of “terrorist” activities in March, a first step towards a possible blocking of the site in Russia, as Twitter, Instagram and several other independent media have been since the offensive in Ukraine.