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YouTube blocks Ukrainian separatists’ channels

YouTube website screenshot (Spencer E Holtaway/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

YouTube has blocked several channels operated by Kremlin-backed separatists in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, commonly known as the Donbas.

Representatives of the separatists who call parts of the Donbas the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) said on February 4 that YouTube blocked channels of what they called the DPR’s People’s Police, the Luhanskinformcenter news agency, the LPR’s State Television and Radio Company, and the press service of the LPR’s People’s Police.

In addition, YouTube also blocked the accounts of Ukraine’s pro-Russian First Independent and UkrLive television channels.

The channel for Luhanskinformcenter was inaccessible on February 4, with a message saying it “has been terminated for violating YouTube’s community guidelines” coming up on screen instead.

YouTube, which is owned by tech giant Google, has not commented on the move, which comes amid concerns about Russia’s amassing of troops along the Ukrainian border, which has raised fears of a possible wholesale invasion of its western neighbor.

Some parts of the Donbas have been under the separatists’ control since April 2014, shortly after Moscow illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea.

More than 13,200 people have been killed in the ongoing military conflict in the Donbas.

Russia has provided military, economic, and political support to the separatists. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Moscow maintains it is not involved in Ukraine’s domestic affairs.