YouTube has terminated the German channels of Russian state broadcaster RT in a move on alleged misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic.
YouTube, which is owned by Google, said on Wednesday that two channels were discontinued.
The company said in an e-mail that RT DE had received a “strike” for uploading material that violated YouTube's standards on Covid-19 misinformation, and as a consequence was suspended from uploading new videos to its channel.
“During this suspension, RT DE tried to circumvent this restriction by using another YouTube channel to upload its videos,” which resulted in both channels being shut for violating YouTube's conditions of use, it added.
Writing on the messaging app Telegram, RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan called the move “a true media war” by Germany on Russia.
“I'm looking forward to my native state banning Deutsche Welle and other German media in Russia without delay, as well as close the offices of ARD and ZDF,” Simonyan said, referring to Germany's main public television stations. “Not to mention sanctions on YouTube.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it would ask relevant government bodies to work up retaliatory measures against German media and YouTube, adding that such a response was “not only appropriate, but also necessary.”
Russia's state communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, demanded that Google restore access to RT's YouTube channels and threatened the platform with fines and a ban if it fails to do so.
German security services have said they consider RT's German service to be a propaganda arm of the Russian state.
RT, previously known as Russia Today, provides its German offering online but so far hasn't been able to get a license to broadcast in Germany via a terrestrial or satellite signal.
Last month, Luxembourg rejected an application by RT for a license to distribute its German-language service via satellite. Authorities in the country concluded that Luxembourg wasn't the right jurisdiction to rule on the request because RT's German service is based in Berlin and a significant part of its workforce is in Germany.
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