Under Russian pressure to remove content, Instagram complies but YouTube holds off

Alexei Navalny

Alexei Navalny Navalny Youtube Channel

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny drew the ire of the Roskomnadzor for sharing several pictures of metals billionaire Oleg Deripaska yucking it up with Sergei Prikhodko, Russia's deputy prime minister, on a yacht. "The site could still be opened through some of the network providers, but it's a matter of time", Navalny wrote on Telegram.

YouTube and Instagram may be blocked in Russian Federation as early as tomorrow unless they comply with the order and remove the material, Vedomosti newspaper reported, citing the watchdog.

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.

Deripaska is reportedly a confidant of President Vladimir Putin, and also has ties to President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. 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.

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A court in Ust-Labinsk, a town in southern Russian Federation where Mr. Deripaska went to school and where he pays some of his taxes, then ordered news media outlets and social media platforms, including Instagram and YouTube, to remove the offending material.

Both Deripaska and Prikhodko, who rarely makes comments to the media, denied the allegations.

Russian Federation has threatened to shut down YouTube and Instagram unless they agree to remove a video accusing Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko of corruption.

Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor included the materials on its register of blacklisted sites following the court order.

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

Navalny says Rybka - whose real name is Anastasiya Vashukevich, according to the Guardian - claimed in a book she published to have met Deripaska and other oligarchs while working as an escort. If a decision is not reached by the end of today (14 February), Russian internet service providers (ISPs) must take action themselves. "The companies were given three business days to block access to the content, or face investigation".

Google warned Navalny that the material on his YouTube channel will be blocked if he doesn't remove it, according to a letter posted by the opposition leader's team late yesterday.

An unnamed representative for Deripaska told the Interfax news agency on February 10 that the businessman was filing a lawsuit against Rybka and a Belarus-born man who goes by the name Alex Lesley for posting details of his private life on social media. "This content was spotlighted by our corruption investigation".

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