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Russia on Monday demanded that Alphabet Inc.’s Google lift a ban on a set of YouTube channels that play old Soviet-era TV and radio clips, setting up a potential showdown with one of the few major Internet media platforms that the Kremlin does not have. t so far blocked.

Russia’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said YouTube’s blocking of these channels, which largely post decades-old video and audio programs based on cached versions of their pages, discriminates “against historical and the culture of our country”. The regulator demanded that the channels be restored, but did not explicitly threaten to block YouTube if it did not comply.

Google did not comment directly on the order, but reiterated an announcement on Friday that YouTube would begin blocking channels “associated with Russian state-funded media globally,” rather than in Europe as before.

On Monday, spot checks showed that the YouTube channels of Russian state media Sputnik and RT, formerly known as Russia Today, were unavailable in the United States, as were at least two of the archival channels cited by the regulator in its request. These archive channels are run by a state-owned media company, the Russian regulator said.

Russia’s demand is stepping up its efforts to fend off Western media and tech companies, erecting a new kind of digital iron curtain over the country. Russia has blocked access to Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook and Instagram, as well as Twitter Inc., but has so far left YouTube available in the country, although it does offer some channels that go online. against Kremlin propaganda.

Some digital media pundits say Russia may have so far spared YouTube because it’s so popular there, making it harder to ban it without causing a backlash.

However, Russian regulators could block YouTube in the near future if it continues to “participate in information warfare”, Anton Gorelkin, deputy head of Russia’s parliamentary committee on information policy, wrote on Monday. information technology and communications, on his Telegram channel. “If the access restriction happens, I will be sincerely sorry, but it will be YouTube’s fault only,” he wrote.

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