YouTube, Say No To Kremlin Censorship

December 14, 2017

December 14, 2017

To:
Susan Wojcicki
Ram Shiram
Larry Page
Shirley Tilghman
Eric Schmidt
Paul Otellini
Normal Hartmann
Omid Kordestani
Ann Mather
Alan Mulally
Lu Li
Jose Antonio Redondo Martin
Sundar Pichai

Board of Directors
CEO, YouTube
YouTube, LLC
901 Cherry Ave.
San Bruno, CA 94066
USA

RE: YouTube, Say No To Kremlin Censorship

Dear Members of the Board

On December 14, Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor has issued an official request demanding that YouTube ban Open Russia’s account (https://www.youtube.com/user/openrussia2014)

This is a flagrant attempt at censorship on behalf of the Russian government backed up by intimidation. Earlier this week, Roskomnadzor has already blocked access to our internet resources in Russia citing the law on “undesirable organizations.” However, even by arbitrary standards of the Kremlin’s legal system, Open Russia is not in violation of any law.

The law on “undesirable organizations” applies only to foreign organizations that allegedly “disrupt order” in Russia. However, Open Russia is a Russian organization and by definition is not subject to this law. Thus, this decision is illegal, and its only goal is to silence the dissent in the country.

Open Russia is a civic movement whose mission is to promote democratic principles, European values, human rights and the rule of law in Russia. We regularly speak out against the regime’s crimes, corruption and power abuses, which is why our work has been constantly vilified by the Russian authorities.

Our work is vital to Russian citizens who come up against the tyranny of the state in their everyday lives. Our websites are among the few independent media outlets remaining in Russia that provide people with objective information and alternative opinions, while Kremlin controls all the mainstream media to propagate its views.

Our platforms of legal assistance aid people in defending their rights against corrupt local officials and business monopolies who exert influence to manipulate courts. This year, Open Russia’s work has successfully defended hundreds of young activists who were unlawfully detained for exercising their constitutional right to participate in anti-corruption protests.

Our cooperation with the European Court of Human Rights ensures that help is provided to those (often underage) people whose human rights were systematically violated by the law enforcement.

If the Kremlin succeeds in stamping out Open Russia’s presence from the internet, then it will be a tragedy for freedom of expression in Russia—a value which numerous people have died for and many others are now in prison for defending.

YouTube has garnered a reputation as a platform that encourages free speech and defends everyone’s right to express their views. It has the power to stand up to authoritarian regimes, like that of Vladimir Putin. It can uphold fundamental democratic principles and values that have gained the trust of hundreds of millions of users worldwide, including many millions in Russia.

We thank you for taking the time to read this letter and hope that you will make the right decision.

We will be happy to answer any other questions you may have regarding our struggle for freedom and democracy in Russia.

Yours faithfully,
Команда Открытой России
The Open Russia Team

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