YouTube, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, has shut down the Ruptly channel, the video agency’s head, Dinara Toktosunova, said on Saturday in a Telegram post. The removal of RT’s German-language RT DE channel “turned out to be just a tryout,” she added, referring to YouTube’s decision to block RT DE in September 2021.
“Now, it does the same to everything that has anything to do with Russia,” Toktosunova wrote in her Saturday post. The media manager also called Ruptly “the most popular channel among all international video agencies” on YouTube, pointing to its 2.1 million subscribers and a total of more than 1.5 billion views.
“Ruptly has always presented unredacted pictures without any comments,” Toktosunova said. As of now, the channel is marked on YouTube as “unavailable in your country.”
In 2021, Ruptly had more than 1,700 media clients from over 100 countries. In 2019, the video agency was the only outlet to film the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange near the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
The development follows YouTube’s Friday announcement, in which the platform said it would block access to “Russian state media” channels across the globe over the conflict in Ukraine. It also announced that it was blocking all monetization on the platform inside Russia, including for private channel owners not linked to the Russian authorities in any way.
YouTube previously blocked RT and Sputnik in the European Union – at the request of EU governments – on March 1. According to the Russian Kommersant daily, on Saturday, the platform also blocked channels belonging to the Russian media, including TASS and RIA news agencies, as well as Rossiya 1 and Rossiya 24 news channels.
Last year, the Google-owned platform deleted RT DE’s account – as well as a secondary page – citing alleged violations of ‘community guidelines’ in the coverage of German protests against Covid-19 restrictions. In December 2021, the platform also removed the German-language RT auf Sendung (RT On Air) channel, labeling it an attempt to circumvent the earlier ban.
Google’s ban on the Russia-sponsored channel comes amid an ongoing large-scale Russian military action in Ukraine launched by Moscow on February 24. The Kremlin maintains it was done to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine with the aim of protecting the people of the two Donbass republics that Moscow had earlier recognized. Kiev has denounced it as an “unprovoked” aggression.
Moscow has accused Kiev of failing to implement the Minsk Agreements – German- and French-brokered proposals on regulating the status of the two Donbass republics within Ukraine – over the seven-year standoff in Ukraine’s east. Now, Russia is demanding that Ukraine declare itself a neutral country and forgo plans to join NATO. Kiev denies it had planned to take the two republics by force.