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YouTube feels hot as Russia rises to ‘digital’


Until last summer, Tsargrad TV, which pretends to be a Russian Orthodox response to Fox News, was an anonymous YouTube site.

Russia’s state-of-the-art media outlet was notorious for educating priests and the global financial conspiracy against Moscow – suspicions that appeared to have been confirmed last July when Google’s search operation lowered the area for alleged US sanctions. .

Now Tsargrad is planning to retaliate after a well-known decision that could put the entire Google business in Russia at risk as Moscow continues to try to force modern Western companies to comply with its rules.

A Moscow court last month ordered Google to reinstate the Tsargrad YouTube channel worldwide because the ban was imposed on its owner, Konstantin Malofeev.

Malofeev has been on US and EU sanctions since 2014 over his relations with Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. But he told FT that YouTube continued to pay Tsargrad $ 10,000 a month for advertising for years until the ban.

Google appealed the decision on May 19. If it does not, it will face a daily court fee that could rise to Rbs94tn ($ 1.28tn) at the end of the year – close to the $ 1.53tn market capitalization of its parent company.

YouTube said on Friday: “Google is committed to complying with applicable laws and regulations. If we find an account that violates these rules, we will take appropriate action.”

“I would not think of suffering as a Russian citizen in Russia because idiots in America are stupid. That is why I am defending my rights under Russian law, “Malofeev told FT in an interview last week.

“If American networks cannot comply with Russian law, then there is probably nothing to do with Russia. That is their idea,” he added, speaking in Tsargrad’s office surrounded by royal monuments to Russia that adorn this.

Moscow also sees control over what it calls “digital independence” as important at a time when foreign giants are dominating most of the Russian population that the Kremlin fears could be used to disclose their intelligence or organize demonstrations.

President Vladimir Putin warned this year that forcing foreign companies to comply with Russian laws is essential so that people do not “spoil internally”.

Google and YouTube are the most important. Imprisoned freedom fighter Alexei Navalny, Putin’s most famous enemy, has more YouTube subscribers than any other Russian TV show and has encouraged them to stage more protests.

Tsargrad Studio. The film has become Russia’s most iconic car. © Tsargrad TV / YouTube

Russia is sending a number of anti-aircraft missiles. At the end of the day, analysts sent new technologies from Russia’s “autonomous internet” – specifically one page that matched local servers – reduce Twitter without removing 3,168 records it said it promotes illegal activities.

Roscomnadzor, an online researcher, said this week it would not ban Twitter from the site having removed a number of controversial posts, but promised the same against YouTube and Facebook if it did not comply with local laws.

Russia’s antitrust regulator is also investigating Google on what it calls YouTube’s “visible, immovable and unpredictable” restrictions.

Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas operator, re-launched YouTube’s YouTube channel and launched the Russian TikTok program YaMolodets late last year and wants to make them a reliable competitor.

Tsargrad owner Konstantin Malofeev told FT ‘I am defending my rights under Russian law.’ © Gavriil Grigorov / TASS via Getty Images

Their audience is a small part that is enjoyed by their external peers. But a new law requiring smartphone manufacturers to pre-install the Russian app on phones sold in the country could lead users to their own way, according to Andrei Soldatov, a non-executive director at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

“They have decided to go the Chinese route and set up a similar system,” said Soldatov, co-author of Russia’s attempts to control the Internet. “Now they have the technical ability to attack the world’s towers – to reduce their traffic and to do more harm.”

Russia has threatened to ban foreign embassies in the past. Microsoft’s position on LinkedIn in 2016 failed to threaten Silicon Valley to comply with Russian law on information and restrictions. Companies that violated Russian law instead were happy to pay the fine they paid.

Roscomnadzor lifted its 2018 ban on Telegram two years after Russian founder Pavel Durov found ways to prevent the blockade.

“They were fighting among themselves. No one was helping. All the President’s officials were chasing Telegram on their phones, “said German Klimenko, a former Putin adviser on the internet.

After Putin changed Russian law last year, Moscow has a number of legal instruments that can be used. One amendment proves that Russian law is important in foreign cases in conflict.

The next law required businessmen in international cases to use Russian courts to resolve foreign disputes. Another sanction was imposed for opposing “Russian journalists after the Kremlin’s popular talk show network RT claims that YouTube has downloaded its videos. And a law enacted on Friday will allow Russia to ban online companies that refuse to open local offices.

The law could force online companies to comply with Russian law – or leave the market – Klimenko said, adding: “This is not a matter of receiving a fine.”

Alternatively, he can set up another page of their website in Russia, saying: “If you want to be a global channel, please follow our rules. If you do not want to, then you can do whatever you want and your Russian IP will be [banned]. ”

Tsargrad alone is a relative minnow: subscribers climbed about 1m before YouTube came down. But Malofeev, who has been urging the government to control the Russian Internet, has made it a major vehicle in Russia.

Smartphone manufacturers need to be legally licensed for Russian-made mobile phones sold in the country. © Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP via Getty Photos

The Kremlin hopes to adopt a patriotic ideology through the Malofeev alliance that will represent parliament in September.

Malofeev – a key ally of right-wing Europeans and the US – said he hoped the victory in the Tsargrad court would also strengthen the West’s freedom fighters.

After the trial, he wrote a letter to Donald Trump urging the former US President, who has also been banned on Twitter and Facebook, to sue U.S. companies reviewing in Russian courts to “join us in building future communication platforms”.

“The people of California cannot enforce these laws in Russia,” he said. “If he doesn’t let me go back, there’s nothing wrong with that.”


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