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Russia takes steps to punish Google over YouTube ‘fakes’

file photo: a youtube logo seen at the youtube space la in playa del rey, los angeles, california, united states
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Russia’s communications watchdog said on Thursday it was taking punitive measures against Google GOOGL.O, including a ban on advertising the platform and its information resources, for violating Russian law.

Roskomnadzor accused Google’s YouTube video-sharing platform, which has shut out Russian state-funded media globally, of becoming “one of the key platforms spreading fakes (fake images) about the course of (Russia’s) special military operation on the territory of Ukraine, discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation”.

Roskomnadzor said the measures against Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., which include a warning in search engines saying it is violating Russian law, would remain in place until it complied with legislation.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last month, Russia demanded that Google stop spreading what it called threats against Russian citizens on YouTube.

The regulator also blocked Google’s news aggregator service in March, accusing it of allowing access to fake material about the military operation in Ukraine.

Russia’s parliament last month passed a law providing for jail terms of up to 15 years for intentionally spreading “fake” news at variance with government accounts about the military.

The desire to control information about its campaign in Ukraine has intensified Moscow’s long-standing tensions with foreign tech firms.

Outraged that Meta Platforms FB.O was allowing social media users in Ukraine to post messages such as “Death to the Russian invaders”, Moscow blocked Instagram in March, having already cut off access to Facebook because of what it said were the platform’s restrictions on Russian media.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it called a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions in an effort to force Russia to withdraw its forces.

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