Moscow — Russian authorities have restricted access to the website of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny and dozens of sites operated by his close allies, Navalny’s team said Monday. ..
This action took place amid increasing government pressure on Russian opposition supporters, independent journalists and human rights activists prior to parliamentary elections. The September vote is widely seen as an important part of President Vladimirputin’s efforts to consolidate his control before the 2024 presidential election.
A 68-year-old Russian leader who has been in power for more than 20 years could have been able to stay in power until 2036 by pushing for constitutional amendment last year.
The website of Navalny, and his top strategist, Leonid Borkov, and long-time ally Lubov Sobol, were unavailable on Monday. The website of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, which was outlawed by the Kremlin as a radical group last month, and a network of about 40 local offices were also inaccessible. Nor was there a Navalny-backed physician alliance website or an online page for Navalny’s freedom.
According to Roskomnadzor, Russia’s national communications oversight agency, access to all websites was restricted at the request of the Russian Prosecutor’s Office. In a statement to Interfax, Rothcomnazol confirmed that it was blocking the website, stating that it was “used for advertising” by a militant group.
“(They) have decided to wipe us out of the Internet altogether,” Navalny’s associate Maria Pebuchik wrote on Twitter.
Putin’s most ardent political enemy, Navalny, was arrested in January when he returned from Germany and recovered from a nerve gas addiction accusing the Kremlin for five months. This is an accusation rejected by the Russian authorities.
In February, Navalny was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for violating the suspended sentence from a 2014 embezzlement conviction dismissed for political motives.
His arrest and imprisonment caused a large wave of protests in Russia’s 11 time zones and appeared to be a major challenge for the Kremlin. Authorities responded with mass arrests of demonstrators and criminal charges of Navalny’s closest companion.
The Politician Anti-Corruption Foundation, which he founded 10 years ago and published dozens of colorful and widely-watched videos that publish suspected corruption governments, relied on Navalny to organize protests. It was labeled as a radical group along with a network of regional offices that were there.
The ruling not only banned the operation of the Foundation and offices, but also prevented people involved in the organization from looking for public office, exposing them to long-term imprisonment.
Navalny’s team said Monday that the Smart Voting website, a project to help candidates most likely to defeat the Kremlin’s dominant United Russian candidate in various elections, will continue to be available. It pointed out.
Strategist Volkov has suggested that authorities may block “near-election” strategic sites in September. On this site, Navalny’s team is planning to roll out a smart voting project.
Navalny’s close ally, Ivan Zhdanov, said in an Instagram post that the team of politicians was “not surprised” by the block on the website. Zidernov followed Navalny’s team and its members on “difficult to block us” social media and urged supporters to download a mobile app that includes all recent research and smart voting projects. ..
“Currently, you can’t block the app,” Zhdanov wrote.
By Daria Litvinova