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Russian Federation tells Google to stop promoting Moscow protests on YouTube

Russian Federation tells Google to stop promoting Moscow protests on YouTube

Russia's state communications watchdog said on Sunday it had asked Google (GOOGL.O) to stop advertising "illegal mass events" on its YouTube video platform. The media regulator said Moscow will take the appropriate measures should the USA video-sharing giant refuse to comply.

The Russian watchdog said that if Google failed to respond to its request, it would consider it "interference in its sovereign affairs" and "hostile influence [over] and obstruction of democratic elections in Russia".

Roskomnadzor said it complained to Google about unspecified "structures" allegedly using tools, such as push notifications, to spread information about illegal mass protests, "including those aimed at disrupting elections". The report didn't provide any details of the retaliatory measures Russia might impose on Google, but possible options would include hitting the company with fines, or blocking Russian Internet users from accessing YouTube.

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Russia's government has a history of putting pressure on Google, which competes against local search engine company Yandex N.V.in the country.

Industry experts believe that Google has been put in a sticky position where it will have to choose between retaining the protesting people's freedom of expression while protecting itself from drawing further ire from Moscow. Officials would have the "right to an adequate reaction", Roskomnadzor mentioned. Some videos attracted more than 50,000 people according to organisers. The BBC reports that up to 60,000 disgruntled Russians participated in Saturday's protest, the fifth demonstration in a month. Russian Federation has also forced it to take down YouTube videos uploaded by Putin opponent Alexei Navalny.

Tens of thousands of people on Saturday staged what observers called the country's biggest political protest in years, defying a crackdown to demand free elections for the legislature of the capital, Moscow. Protest tally NGO White Counter estimated that nearly 50,000 people attended the opposition's arrest-laden demonstration.