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Russian news channel for Balkans banned from YouTube

The logo of Russia-backed international news broadcaster RT.
The logo of Russia-backed international news broadcaster RT. (Image via RT broadcast, Graphic by The Desk)

A localized version of Russia’s international news channel RT aimed at the Balkans has been kicked off YouTube less than a month after debuting.

RT Balkan was notified this week that its content was no longer accessible on YouTube, and that the brand would be prohibited from uploading and distributing content through the Google-backed video sharing website in the future.

The move comes after Google took similar steps earlier this year against RT (formerly known as Russia Today) and its sister news publication, Sputnik, amid allegations that the brands were spreading misinformation and propaganda related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Lawmakers in Europe have moved to give RT the boot off online and television platforms alike, with several countries banning the network from broadcasting to its citizens. These bans have extended in rare cases to American platforms as well, with the French government warning video sharing service Odysee that it could face criminal sanctions if it didn’t remove a French-language version of RT, The Desk reported in October.

RT has found refuge in other platforms, including Rumble, a startup video sharing service that has found favor with far-right broadcasters, conspiracy theorists and extremists.

It wasn’t clear if RT Balkan would try to find another platform for its video feed. In a statement, a spokesperson for the channel criticized YouTube for the ban.

“Google claims that it cares a lot about quality, responsible and free information, and yet it does not offer its YouTube users any explanation why a certain video content or channel has been removed from this platform,” the spokesperson said.

RT Balkan launched on November 15 and is based in Serbia. The brand continues to distribute news on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and via its own website.