Russian Federation blocks opposition leader's website just before election

Putin critic Alexei Navalny posted a video on You Tube connecting the meeting to alleged Russian intereference in the 2016 election

Putin critic Alexei Navalny posted a video on You Tube connecting the meeting to alleged Russian intereference in the 2016 election

Russia's media watchdog on Thursday (Feb 15) blocked the website of opposition leader Alexei Navalny after he posted a video alleging a deputy prime minister enjoyed lavish hospitality from a billionaire tycoon.

If YouTube were to comply with the government agency it would block the video from YouTube's Russian domain, but not from the site globally, reported the New York Times. "The site could still be opened through some of the network providers, but it's a matter of time", Navalny wrote on Telegram.

As of Thursday, the video still remained online, although Russia's communications regulator Roskomnadzor said it had issued a request to Google to delete the video.

"It seems that Instagram gave in after unfounded threats from Roskomnadzor", Navalny said on Twitter.

Russia's state-controlled media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, on Saturday ordered that 14 Instagram posts and seven YouTube videos be deleted.

Russia's most well-known opposition figure, Navalny has been forbidden from standing against Putin in an upcoming March election. He also quoted from her book "A Journal: How to Seduce a Billionaire" - in which, according to Navalny, Rybka refers to Deripaska as "Ruslan" and Prikhodko as "Papa". If a decision is not reached by the end of today (14 February), Russian internet service providers (ISPs) must take action themselves.

Prikhodko and Deripaska have denied the allegations. "The companies were given three business days to block access to the content, or face investigation".

According to Navalny, the video shot by Rybka shows her, Deripaska, and Prikhodko talking about how the deputy prime minister met Victoria Nuland, at the time the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and a frequent critic of Russian Federation.

Navalny's team, which has published previous investigations about the vast real estate holdings of Russian government employees with relatively low salaries, said that YouTube had asked them to take down a video about the yacht affair.

Navalny has filed an appeal with Moscow's Taganka district court against Roskomnadzor. demanding that it remove his investigation from the list of the banned materials. According to the businessman's spokesperson, the plaintiffs violated Deripaska's privacy.

Navalny, who was barred from running against Vladimir Putin in March's presidential elections, has built a massive online following in Russian Federation for investigations accusing government ministers and top officials of corruption.

Rybka's posts relating to the allegations were no longer accessible on Instagram on Wednesday, but Navalny's 25-minute YouTube video - that has racked up more than five million hits since it was posted last week - was still available.

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