YouTube has started taking down videos about Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, The Moscow Times’ Russian service reported Tuesday.
Wagner, which has been at the front of Russia’s war effort in eastern Ukraine for months, has been accused of brutality and war crimes in Ukraine and other war zones abroad.
The Google-owned video platform said in a statement that it is prohibited to post materials about “criminal and terrorist organizations,” as Wagner is designated by the United States and a growing number of other Western governments.
“We make exceptions only for educational, documentary, artistic and scientific videos if they’re accompanied by suitable context and their publication is justified,” The Moscow Times’ Russian service quoted the YouTube statement as saying.
Last month, Ukraine’s culture and information policy minister accused tech giants like YouTube and TikTok of providing “effective advertising platforms” for Wagner to recruit new mercenaries to wage war on Ukraine.
Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko later commended YouTube for reacting with “lightning speed” and removing Wagner-related content and channels with over 1 million views.
Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin has called on Russian authorities to block YouTube for spreading what he called anti-Russian content and to blacklist Google as an “undesirable” organization.
YouTube has deleted the channels of many pro-Kremlin media organizations since Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022.
The Kremlin in turn accused YouTube and its parent company Google of censorship and “terrorism.”
But it has so far stopped short of banning it like it has banned Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, along with many independent media outlets.