Russia Blocks Navalny's Website After Billionaire Graft Probe

Alan Olson
February 16, 2018

Deripaska won the court order against a woman whose Instagram posts, book excerpts and open-source data Navalny used to establish a connection between the billionaire and Prikhodko.

The videos first emerged on the Instagram account of Anastasiya Vashukevich, a woman working as an escort under the name Nastya Rybka, who claims to have had an affair with Deripaska. As the immediate result of Deripaska's lawsuit, Roskomnadzor, Russia's communications regulator, added the postings of the video to its list of banned Web pages.

The Guardian writes that Navalny claims Deripaska "was briefing Prikhodko on information on the 2016 USA presidential campaign that he had received from Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager", although he offers no proof of this.

"An oligarch takes a top government official on a ride on his own yacht - that's a bribe", Navalny says in the video.

Miss Rybka posted several videos in 2016 showing Deripaska on his yacht talking with Deputy Prime minister Prikhodko.

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Navalny has called for a boycott of Russia's Mar 18 presidential election after he was barred from running over a criminal conviction he says was politically motivated.

Instagram photos were also among those that the watchdog wanted to block, though Rybka, whose pseudonym means "fish", appears to have deleted the original images of Deripaska from her account.

The agency, Roskomnadzor, demanded that Navalny remove a video alleging that Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko received lavish hospitality from billionaire Oleg Deripaska. Roskomnadzor by the decision of the Ust-Labinsk district court chose to lock in these materials as interim measure on the suit. If a decision is not reached by the end of today (14 February), Russian internet service providers (ISPs) must take action themselves. YouTube hasn't agreed to remove the video as of Thursday afternoon.

We've had ongoing discussions on this site about the ham-fisted website censorship policy that Russian Federation has undertaken over the past few years. It said Instagram had complied with a similar request to take down related material and that it was waiting for Google to delete a YouTube video. It is up to interpretation whether the "public interest" exception would include Deripaska, who is known to be close to Putin and whose companies do business with the Russian Federation. "More interestingly the investigation exposes a potential secret communication channel linking President Trump's campaign-Paul Manafort- Oleg Deripaska-and the Russian government", said Roman Borisovich, the supervisory board member of the Russian Anti-Corruption Foundation, in an email to Fast Company.

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