On Wednesday, the federal government denied its involvement in the blocking and removal of the German channels of the Russian state medium RT on the video platform YouTube in the European country.
“It is not a government decision,” said German government spokesman Steffen Seibert at a press conference, where he insisted that, given the existence of “opposing versions, especially on Russian channels”, it was a question of a YouTube decision . “So anyone who says otherwise is making up a conspiracy theory,” he added.
YouTube noted that the decision was taken as a sanction for violating the platform’s disinformation policy related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The platform had already warned RT about spreading this type of news and restricted the ability to post content, a measure RT circumvented by posting its videos on a secondary channel.
The editor-in-chief of RT, Margarita Simonyan, criticized the decision and classified this situation as a “media war” in a publication on her social networks.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, for its part, warned against “symmetrical retaliation” against German media operating on Russian territory, which was “not only appropriate but also necessary”. The Russian authorities point out that these media have been condemned “repeatedly for their involvement in meddling in the internal affairs of the country”.
In this context, Seibert emphasized during the day that the freedom of the press was “a great good” for the federal government. “We defend it at home and abroad,” he said, reproaching the fact that anyone who calls for or speaks of counter-attacks against the German media operating in Russia “does not, in our opinion, show a good relationship with freedom of the press.”
RT is often criticized in the West as a propaganda tool of the Kremlin, especially on health issues and in spreading conspiracy theories and disinformation on behalf of the Russian state.
It has several foreign language programs in its portfolio. The German broadcaster RT, called RT DE, offers information ‘online’ in German. The content will be disseminated via the website and social media such as Facebook, Instagram and, up until the day before, YouTube.