Russia threatens 'retaliatory measures' after YouTube's removal of RT channels

Russia is threatening "retaliatory measures" against YouTube after the company removed its state media RT's German-language channels for allegedly containing COVID-19 misinformation. 

Russia said the company is engaging in "unprecedented information aggression" and is breaking Russian law, Reuters reported

"There should certainly be zero tolerance for this kind of breaking of the law," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. 

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The country’s foreign ministry is working on "a proposal to develop and take retaliatory measures against the YouTube hosting service and the German media,” according to the wire service. 

YouTube announced earlier Wednesday that it would ban several prominent accounts that contained false information about vaccines, part of a larger effort by the video platform to crack down on medical misinformation. 

Under the new policy, the site, owned by Google, will take down any videos that claim approved vaccines cause cancer or infertility. 

“YouTube has always had clear community guidelines that outline what is allowed on the platform. RT DE was issued a strike for uploading content that violated our COVID misinformation policy. This resulted in a suspension of their posting privileges,” a YouTube spokesperson said, according to Reuters. 

“During this suspension, they tried to circumvent the enforcement by using another channel and as a result both channels were terminated for breaking YouTube Terms of Service,” the spokesperson added. 

Russia is accusing German media of supporting the move to block the channel. A German government spokesperson has denied this claim, according to Reuters. 

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"It is a decision by YouTube, based on rules created by YouTube. It is not a measure (taken by) the German government or other official organisations," German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said. 

The news is the latest back-and-forth between Russia and Google, YouTube’s parent company. 

Google complied with Russia's demand to take down a voting app connected to opposition leader Alexei Navalny that promoted opposition candidates in parliamentary elections. 

Russia had previously threatened to fine companies and jail local employees if they did not take the app down before the elections.