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Russia court bans YouTube for extremist content

A Russian court on Wednesday made public a ruling banning access to five websites, including the video-sharing network Youtube [website], for what it calls extremist elements. A court in the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur obliged the local Internet provider Rosnet to block access to the sites in its region of the country, citing Russia's anti-extremism laws [RT report, video]. The decision came after a video entitled "Russia for Russians," also a Russian extremist slogan, was posted on YouTube. The other sites were blocked [Moscow Times report] for containing excerpts of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf [Britannica backgrounder], which was banned by the Russian Prosecutor General's Office [official website, in Russian] in March after it was found in violation of laws against extremism. In 2007, the Russian parliament approved legislative amendments [JURIST report] to change the prevailing definition of extremist crime in Russian law to include activities taken for "political or ideological hatred." Opponents of the legislation criticized the amendments as an attempt to curtail civil liberties and hamper democracy by putting restraints on media coverage and discouraging opposition campaigning.

Last month, a Pakistani court reimposed a ban on YouTube [JURIST report] after content deemed offensive to Muslims resurfaced on the website when a previous ban was lifted in May. The court ordered the ban after evidence of content on the websites regarding the Prophet Muhammad and the Koran was presented at a hearing. Last year, Bangladeshi officials lifted a ban on YouTube [JURIST report] that had been imposed after a recording was posted in which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [official profile, BBC profile] is criticized by army officers over how she handled the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) [official website] mutiny [BBC backgrounder] in late February 2009. In 2008, the Chinese government blocked Internet users [JURIST report] in the country from accessing YouTube after videos of a government crackdown on Tibetan protesters challenging Chinese rule were posted on the site.

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