- Russia’s communications minister, Maksut Shadayev, stated that the country has no plans to take down YouTube.
- He stated that such a change would most certainly cause Russian users to suffer and should thus be avoided.
- He went on to explain that Russia does not want to be shut off from global internet infrastructure, stating, “We think that Russia should remain a part of the global network.”
Russia has no plans to ban Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, according to the minister for digital development, but acknowledging that such a step would certainly cause Russian users to suffer and should thus be avoided.
Russia has blocked other international social media sites, but despite months of penalties and threats against YouTube for failing to erase information deemed unlawful by Moscow and for restricting access to some Russian media, it has stopped short of killing the video-hosting service.
YouTube is immensely popular in Russia, with over 90 million monthly users, and plays a vital role in the digital economy. Despite the fact that Russia has domestic versions of other social media platforms, a viable YouTube alternative on that scale has yet to materialize.
“We are not planning to close YouTube,” Maksut Shadaev, minister of communications and mass media, said at an educational forum. “Above all, when we restrict something, we should clearly understand that our users won’t suffer.”
He told a large audience of primarily young Russians, some of whom were spread around the room on bean bags, that competition is the engine of progress and blocking is an extreme measure.
Simmering tensions between Moscow and Big Tech exploded into a full-fledged information war on February 24, when Russia deployed tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.
In early March, Russia limited access to Twitter and Meta Platform’s Facebook and Instagram. It pledged in April to punish Google for blocking Russian state-funded media on YouTube internationally, accusing it of spreading false information about Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Meta was found guilty of “extremist activity” in March, a judgement to which the company objected, but Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on Tuesday that Instagram’s reinstatement is not out of the question if Meta complies with Russian content and local office regulations.
Shadaev also dismissed allegations that Russia may want to further isolate itself from global internet infrastructure, which it disconnected from during tests last summer.
“We do not want to close ourselves off from anyone,” Shadaev said. “On the contrary, we think that Russia should remain a part of the global network.”