Russian court bans YouTube over extremist videos
A court banned access to popular video site YouTube in Russia's Far East because it contained a video that the Justice Ministry declared extremist, Russian newspapers reported Thursday.
The court in the city of Komsomolsk-Na-Amure ruled that a local provider should block YouTube because it included a video called "Russia for the Russians" that was declared extremist in 2009.
It also told the provider to block access to three web sites that it said gave access to Hitler's "Mein Kampf," which is also on the extremist literature list.
The Justice Ministry did not give details of the video, whose title is listed in English, except that it was banned by a court in the central Russian city of Samara.
A video of that title featuring the emblem of banned ultra-nationalist group the Slavic Union shows its members making Nazi salutes, wearing swastika armbands and kneeling beside a photograph of Hitler.
The decision was widely derided on Thursday. "The global YouTube has been closed by the protocol of a district court," wrote business daily Kommersant.
The Internet is a vital forum for political debate in Russia, as almost all newspapers and television channels present bland pro-Kremlin coverage, and most prominent analysts and liberal politicians contribute to blogs and news sites. The court in Komsomolsk-na-Amure, a city best known for making Sukhoi planes, also told the provider to block access to three web sites that it said gave access to Hitler's "Mein Kampf," also banned in Russia as extremist.
The provider said Wednesday that it had launched an appeal to the decision, which was issued on July 16 but widely publicised this week.
A spokesman for the Russian branch of Google, which owns YouTube, called the ban unconstitutional.
"We consider that the decision of the Central district court in Komsomolsk-na-Amure, breaches the Russian Constitution," told the RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday.
She cited the Constitution's clause on freedom of information and pointed out that the ban on YouTube would also block the Kremlin's official channel on the website.
© 2010 AFP