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24 Oct, 2020 14:05

YouTube mysteriously bans Ukrainian opposition leader just before crucial elections in Ukraine, US government blamed by party

YouTube mysteriously bans Ukrainian opposition leader just before crucial elections in Ukraine, US government blamed by party

The YouTube channel of Viktor Medvedchuk, co-chair of Ukraine's main opposition party, has been suspended just as the country holds crucial municipal elections. Medvedchuk is known for advocating improved relations with Russia.

A controversial figure in Ukraine, the opposition leader rejects the anti-Moscow line to which most other political forces in the crisis-ridden country adhere. For example, earlier this month he called on Kiev to purchase the Russian-developed vaccine against Covid-19, Sputnik V, which he claimed he had tested on himself.

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The suspension of Medvedchuk's YouTube channel came out of the blue with no explanation from the video service, which now labels it with a generic message that it had violated terms of service. His party, Opposition platform – For Life, called it an act of political retaliation by the US government for his Russia-friendly, West-skeptical position. Officials didn't explain why they believe Washington was behind the move.

Before being banned, the channel had more than 70,000 subscribers, with some videos scoring over a million views. The party bragged that its co-chair was more popular on YouTube than any other major Ukrainian politician, including President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The ban was reported on Saturday, the day before Ukraine holds municipal elections throughout the country. Zelensky's Servant of the People party is fighting an uphill battle to produce a result even remotely comparable to the landslide victories it won last year in national contests.

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During the July 2019 general election, the president's party secured a huge majority in the 450-seat Ukrainian parliament, taking 254 seats. Medvedchuk's party came a distant second with 43 seats. Recent opinion polls ahead of Sunday's vote suggest that the Servant of the People party could end up behind both Medvedchuk's grouping, and that of former president, Petro Poroshenko.

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