Russian censor blocks Navalny's website

Aleksei Navalny

Billionaire Oleg Deripaska (right) has sued to take the videos down.

This follows a high-profile investigation into the men's relationship by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The government's media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, then gave YouTube and Instagram three days to take the videos down or be investigated.

Navalny said: "It wasn't me who took bribes from an oligarch in the form of aeroplane flights and expensive cruises, but the singular, lightning-fast attack of the government is directed against me and my foundation, who exposed the corruption".

On February 10, Deripaska's lawyers filed a lawsuit against Anastasia Vashukevich (Nastya Rybka), demanding that she remove 14 Instagram posts and seven videos that violate Deripaska's right to privacy under article 24 of the Russian Constitution.

Alexey Navalny's video investigating ties between Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko, which was published on the website of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation and posted on YouTube, was viewed almost five million times in just one week.

Navalny makes these claims about the August 2016 boat trip by triangulating Rybka's social media posts and book with geolocation and publicly available maritime and aviation records. Navalny also presented evidence a woman on Deripaska's yacht was a prostitute. He also alleges that Deripaska was updating Prikhodo on the 2016 USA presidential campaign, with information that he had received from Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager.

The message, purportedly from YouTube's legal team, says that it received a claim from Roskomnadzor that the video violates a Russian law and has been blacklisted. "If you do not remove the content, Google may be required to block it", said the email.

"It's impossible for internet providers to block certain pages on Instagram and YouTube", a spokeswoman for the Russian Association for Electronic Communications told the BBC. Navalny is asking that they do not accede to the government's demands.

Deripaska filed a lawsuit against Vashukevich and her acquaintance Alexander Kirillov on February 9.

"The tactic may signal a more aggressive approach by the Russian government in its bid to rein in social media and video-sharing websites popular in the country".

YouTube and Instagram face being blocked by Russian internet service providers as a result of a standoff between one of the country's richest businessmen and an opposition leader. Navalny is President Putin's most prominent opponent, but he has been banned from standing as a candidate in the presidential elections due next month. He wasn't allowed to run.

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