One of Russia’s largest telecoms operators, Rostelecom, suspended access to YouTube in the Omsk Region on Wednesday after local prosecutors reacted to the "Innocence of Muslims" film which has triggered protests across the Islamic world.
The regional prosecutor's office wrote to the company urging it to stop distributing the American anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” over fears that the film advertises extremist ideas.
On Tuesday, a representative of Rostelecom's Omsk subsidiary said the company had blocked access to YouTube at about 5 p.m. local time because illegal content had been posted on the file-sharing site. Access was resumed several hours later.
A statement posted to the company's website and signed by the acting Omsk Region prosecutor says “free access to [YouTube] may result in the dissemination of extremist ideas in the region, as well as extremist crimes.”
Access was blocked only in the Omsk region, the statement added.
Earlier, Russia's telecom watchdog, Roskomnadzor, urged communication operators to block access to the film before the courts designate it as extremist. On Monday, the Prosecutor General's Office prepared to officially recognize the film as “extremist.”
The move comes as a new anti-extremist law prepares to take effect on November 1, which targets the Internet as a zone of potential extremism. While the authorities have said the legislation is meant to protect children from harmful material, critics have blasted it as an attempt to dampen dissent on the Internet.
Mass demonstrations over the film broke out in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan and other predominantly Muslim countries. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed, along with three colleagues, when rioters attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11.