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Russia's RT Says German YouTube Channel Blocked Right After Launch

Russia's state-owned media company RT says YouTube has blocked its newly launched RT DE channel, less than three months after the U.S. video-sharing platform deleted two German-language RT channels it accused of breaching its COVID-19 misinformation policy.

YouTube deleted the RT auf Sendung (RT On the Air) channel "after only five hours of broadcasting," without sending advance notice or warning, RT said on December 16.

Russian news agencies quoted the press service of Google in Russia as confirming the move, saying the channel was removed for evading the restrictions that were placed on RT DE in late September.

"If a channel is removed, its owner cannot use, own, or create any other YouTube channels," it said, according to TASS and Interfax.

At the time, U.S. tech giant Google, which owns YouTube, said RT DE and Der Fehlende Part (The Missing Part) were deleted because the YouTube channels had published what it called "misinformation" about COVID-19 and vaccines.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov condemned the move as "censorship," while Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor threatened to restrict access to YouTube in Russia.

The United States and Europe have previously accused Russia of spreading false information about COVID-19 and vaccines.

Launched in 2005 as Russia Today, state-funded RT has continually expanded with broadcasters and websites in languages including English, French, Spanish, and Arabic.

The channel has been banned in several countries, including the ex-Soviet republics of Lithuania and Latvia.

In the United states, it was required to register as a "foreign agent," and British authorities have threatened to revoke its broadcasting license.

In recent months, Russian courts have ordered foreign Internet search engines and social media companies, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram, and TikTok, to pay fines for failing to delete banned content.

Russia has also blocked several virtual private network (VPN) service providers that shield IP addresses, and still seeks to block others in what is seen as part of Moscow's efforts to bring the Internet in Russia under its control and quell dissent.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax
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