The Google-owned video platform on Monday blocked the channel of the Belgrade-based RT Balkans. No explanation was given for the move, which came about three weeks after the launch of the Serbian-language outlet in a region saturated by Western media coverage.
RT Balkans reported on the ban on Monday evening, pointing out that the most recent video posted on the channel was their interview with the Russian ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko.
“Why are owners of the Western media space so afraid of RT’s Serbian-language reporting?” the outlet asked. “Their move mainly speaks about the lack of media freedom in the West, especially since the posts on your YouTube channel in no way violated the company’s rules of conduct.”
The Serbian-language news site was launched on November 15, with plans to begin TV broadcasts by 2024. It was able to open a YouTube account and post content even though the Google-owned platform had previously banned all “Russian” media.
Enacted in March, the ban followed demands by the EU to block RT and Sputnik channels in the bloc’s territory. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos in May, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki explained the platform had created a new policy regarding “verified violent events,” which puts “denial or trivialization” of the conflict in Ukraine in the same category as denying the Holocaust.
Meanwhile, YouTube continued to operate in Russia so that its citizens could have access to “independent news,” she said, adding that one of the lessons of the conflict in Ukraine is that “information can be weaponized.”
RT sued in May. In October, an arbitration court in Moscow ruled that YouTube must unblock the accounts or face a daily fine of 100,000 rubles ($1,694), doubling every week. The same court had frozen Google’s assets in Russia, valued at 500 million rubles ($8.4 million), to ensure the verdict could be enforced.
You can share this story on social media: