The YouTube account of Kremlin-funded television network RT, reportedly the most popular news channel on the video-sharing website, was suspended on Tuesday but was unblocked in about an hour.
According to RT's page on YouTube, the account was suspended "due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube's policy against spam, gaming, misleading content, or other Terms of Service violations."
"Two years ago on the same day, March 18, we were also blocked," RT's Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the English-language television network created to promote the Russian government's position abroad, wrote on Twitter. "We hope that this was a technical error and not a 'technical error'" she said, apparently referring to a the possibility of a technical error being used as an excuse for suspension on other grounds.
People familiar with YouTube's spam-reporting mechanism suggest the channel may have been blocked because it posted highly controversial content.
"Considering that their last video before being blocked was about Crimea, it's likely that Russia Today exceeded the normal percentage for videos reported as spam by YouTube users," said an Internet industry insider who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of violating his company's corporate policy. "This may have led to the channel being blocked automatically pending a manual check."
Some observers, however, linked the suspension to the information war between Western and pro-Kremlin media over the situation in Ukraine. RT has been accused of being an indoctrination tool and apologist for Russia's takeover of Crimea.
Liz Wahl, an RT based in the U.S., announced her resignation on air earlier this month, saying she disagreed with the network's support for Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and its "whitewashing" of President Vladimir Putin's actions.
In June 2013 RT said that its YouTube channel became the first-ever television news channel to reach 1 billion views. The station maintains other YouTube channels aimed specifically at Russian and American audiences which were not blocked.