Google appeals court order to unblock sanctioned businessman’s YouTube account

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The Google logo is visible on a building in the La Défense business and financial district in Courbevoie near Paris, France, on September 1, 2020. REUTERS / Charles Platiau / File Photo

Google’s Russian branch said on Thursday it had filed an appeal against a Moscow court ruling requiring it to unblock the YouTube account of an Orthodox Christian news channel owned by a Russian businessman subjected to abuses. American and European financial sanctions.

Tsargrad TV, which is owned by Konstantin Malofeev, claims that YouTube blocked his account in July 2020 without providing a reason. Google said at the time that it had a policy of suspending accounts that violated sanctions or trade restriction rules.

In April, the Moscow Arbitration Court said Google must either restore Tsargrad’s account or face a daily fine of 100,000 rubles ($ 1,358.29), which would double every week if Google does not comply.

Malofeev was placed under US and European sanctions in 2014 for funding pro-Moscow separatists fighting in Ukraine, which he denies. Russia considers these Western sanctions to be illegal.

The dispute with YouTube is one of many instances in which US tech and social media giants have drawn the wrath of the Russian state. President Vladimir Putin accused social media companies of “monopoly” in a speech this year at the World Economic Forum.

Russia has punitively hampered the speed of Twitter since March and has warned other tech platforms, including YouTube, for not removing content it deems illegal. Read more

“We have now filed an appeal against last month’s Tsargrad ruling, as it overturns previous rulings of several Russian courts and comes with a penalty that is out of proportion to the current case,” Google said Russia in a press release. .

“We are also appealing because the ruling creates a lot of uncertainty for foreign investors – like Google – in Russia. We look forward to making our arguments in detail at the appeal hearing.”

Representatives for Malofeev said they categorically disagreed with Google’s appeal and its interpretation of the decision.

“We believe the earlier ruling is absolutely legal and we will prove it at the appeal hearing, which is expected to take place at the end of June,” Malofeev spokesman Valeriy Rukobratskiy told Reuters.

Google Russia said the appeal was filed on Wednesday.

($ 1 = 73.6220 rubles)

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