Ukraine: YouTube blocks access to Ukrainian TV channels linked to Kremlin ally | Voice of America
KYIV, UKRAINE – Three Ukrainian TV channels linked to an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin were barred from broadcasting on Google’s YouTube on Saturday, the Ukrainian government said, following its request to YouTube to remove the channels.
The YouTube channels of ZiK, 112 Ukraine and NewsOne did not read their content and instead showed a blank screen with a message indicating that the channel was not available.
“We are happy that such an influential American company is willing to cooperate when it comes to Ukrainian national security issues and Russian disinformation,” the Ukrainian embassy in Washington said in a tweet.
YouTube did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
The move comes after weeks of tension between Kiev and Moscow over the conflict in eastern Ukraine and an accumulation of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders that had alarmed Western backers of Ukraine and the military alliance of NATO.
Russia said it started withdrawing troops on Friday.
Backed by the United States, the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy blocked the broadcasting of the three channels on Ukrainian television in February, accusing them of being instruments of Russian propaganda and partly financed by Russia.
The government has also asked YouTube to shut down channels on its platform.
The listed owner of the channels is Taras Kozak, a lawmaker from the Opposition Platform – For Life party.
Kozak is an associate of Viktor Medvedchuk, a prominent opposition figure who says Putin is his daughter’s godfather. The Kremlin said its contacts with Medvedchuk represented Russia’s efforts to maintain ties with “the Russian world”.
Medvedchuk and Kozak did not respond to requests for comment, but both Kozak and Medvedchuk have previously described the crackdown on the chains as illegal.
Medvedchuk told Reuters earlier this year that the crackdown was designed to silence criticism of Zelenskiy’s political mistakes, saying Zelenskiy was “furious” at what the TV stations were reporting.
Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko on Saturday thanked YouTube for the ban, calling the channels “part of Russia’s propaganda war against Ukraine”.