The authorities decide to ban access to websites linked to the opposition leader in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in September.
Russian authorities have blocked access to the website of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny ahead of an upcoming parliamentary poll, as well as those of 48 other people and organizations affiliated with him.
Monday’s decision came after a Russian court last month approved a prosecutor’s request to declare organizations linked to Navalny “extremist,” effectively banning them and barring his allies from participating in September’s chamber elections. bass of the Duma.
Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor said in a statement to Reuters that it has decided to block navalny.com, the main website of the banned movement, and others in Russia, at the request of the attorney general.
He said the sites were helping the movements targeted by the judicial ban to disseminate propaganda and continue their illegal activities.
Condemning the move, Navalny’s team said on social media they expected authorities to soon target their smart voting website, which advises people how to vote tactically to try to overthrow party candidates. to power United Russia.
“(They) have decided to wipe us off the Internet altogether,” tweeted Navalny partner Maria Pevchikh.
Leonid Volkov, an ally of Navalny, said he and others will soon explain what people should do to try to avoid website blocks.
The Kremlin is cracking down on its opponents
Navalny, 44, is President Vladimir Putin’s foremost domestic critic.
He is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for alleged parole violations related to a 2014 embezzlement conviction which he dismisses as fabricated.
He was arrested in January on his return from Germany to Russia, where he spent five months recovering from poisoning with a nerve agent he attributes to the Kremlin.
His imprisonment increased tensions in Russia’s relations with Western powers, including the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, who demanded his release.
Navalny’s imprisonment also sparked mass protests earlier this year across Russia’s 11 time zones, in what appeared to be a major challenge for the Kremlin.
Authorities responded with mass arrests of demonstrators and criminal charges against Navalny’s closest associates.
In recent months, the Kremlin has also stepped up pressure on opposition supporters, independent journalists and human rights activists in Russia ahead of the next election in September.
The vote is widely seen as an important part of Putin’s efforts to cement his reign ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
The 68-year-old Russian leader, in power for more than 20 years, pushed through constitutional changes last year that would potentially allow him to stay in power until 2036.