YouTube fined in Russia for inaction against ‘propaganda’

Russian courts have fined YouTube for not doing enough against “propaganda”. The video site is still accessible in Russia, unlike other platforms.

Around 77,000 euros. This is the amount of the fine that was imposed by a Russian court against YouTube, on April 21, according to the public press agency Tass. At the same time, its parent company, Google, was fined around 44,000 euros. In both cases, it is on the basis of “propaganda” that these sanctions were taken.

YouTube accused of leaving “propaganda” online

It appears from the account of the two judgments that it is the maintenance of videos of the controversial Azov regiment, which the Ukrainian government has employed since 2014 in its conflict with Russia, as well as allegations of the extent of the losses of the Russian army during this war, which led the Muscovite judges to pronounce these two sentences.

The Azov regiment was formed in 2014 following the risk of sedition in eastern Ukraine, in a context of strong destabilization of the nation, even danger. It is a paramilitary troop of a few thousand men that Moscow accuses of being a hideout for Nazis. It is moreover on this assertion that the Kremlin partly justified its war, on the grounds of denazifying Ukraine. He it is established that this force is nationalist and far rightand likely committed war crimes, but she is not not representative of the Ukrainian forces and weighs little on the army as a whole.

If the existing ideology in the Azov regiment harms the image of Ukraine in its resistance against aggression, it allows Moscow to advance one more argument for waging war. It also gives him an opportunity to connect with history, as the Soviets sided with Nazi Germany in World War II. That being said, the story proposed by the Kremlin is flawed: the power does not show at all the same eagerness to denazify its own country, starting with the sulphurous Wagner Group, whose leader is a notorious neo-Nazi.

Volodymyr Zelensky visiting the town of Bucha. // Source : President Of Ukraine

As for the Russian losses, it is a very sensitive subject and the estimates on both sides reveal colossal discrepancies. The Russian General Staff understates its balance sheet, while kyiv probably exaggerates it. There would thus have been less than 1,500 dead among the Russian soldiers, according to Moscow, but nearly 21,000 according to other calculations. It is unverifiable for each side, including the losses on the Ukrainian side. NATO, for its part, gives an estimate halfway, and which is probably more accurate – between 7,000 and 15,000 dead.

The two sanctions imposed on Google and YouTube are derisory compared to their financial capacities. But more than their amount, these two fines illustrate the drift of the country in terms of freedom of expression. It is forbidden to speak of war, but of special military operation. It is forbidden to challenge it, just like all decisions and assertions of power. It was impossible to obtain proper information on Russian TV or in the other local media, for lack of sufficient leeway allowing them to cover the conflict.

YouTube is now one of the few major internet platforms still operating in Russia — since the start of the war, many companies have either opted out or been banned. However, Google has taken steps to block channels linked to RT and Sputnik in Europe. The American company has also indefinitely halted the possibility of monetizing Russian state-funded media on its platforms, and took other measures.

Other platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, were less fortunate. This different treatment may come as a surprise, especially since Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor has not been kind to the company. Google has been accused of having an anti-Russian stance and YouTube of harming the population by leaving hostile content. This relative leniency may not last, especially as accusations of abuse against the civilian population, as in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, are increasingly numerous and increasingly documented.


Source: Numerama by www.numerama.com.

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