The purportedly permanent removal of the two YouTube channels, RT DE and Der Fehlende Part, followed a broad campaign against RT’s operations waged by German media and government officials, Simonyan insisted on Wednesday. The effort stemmed from the rapid audience growth the now-defunct channels have enjoyed, she believes.
“Before the removal of our channels, German media has been publishing scary stories about German-language RT getting way too influential, way too big,” she said. “According to their own estimates, we’re in the fourth place in terms of influence in Germany, we’re – we were, now – ahead of such giants as German-language Deutsche Welle [Berlin’s state-run international broadcaster]. No one expected that, we ourselves did not think we’d accomplish it that fast.”
RT has faced multiple hostile moves from German authorities, including denial of a license to broadcast and the scaring away of banks from working with the channel, Simonyan added. Berlin also apparently pressed neighboring Luxembourg into denying RT a license, multiple reports by German media have indicated.
“When all that failed, they simply deleted us from YouTube under an entirely invented pretext,” Simonyan said.
Earlier, Simonyan branded the deletion of the channels a “declaration of media war against Russia by Germany,” calling for a ban on Deutsche Welle and other German channels, as well as for “sanctioning YouTube itself.”
The RT YouTube channels were shut down earlier this week after the German-language broadcaster allegedly tried to circumvent a ‘community guidelines’ strike, handed down for ‘medical misinformation’ in four videos. The exact details of the purported breach are still not clear. The removal of the channels has already invoked a furious reaction in Moscow, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stating earlier on Wednesday that a “zero tolerance” approach will be adopted towards such behavior.
Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, has also published a letter it sent to YouTube’s parent company, tech giant Google, demanding all restrictions be lifted from the RT channels. Failing to do so may ultimately lead to a blanket ban on YouTube in Russia, the watchdog warned.
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