Kremlin critic’s website blocked before polls

MOSCOW: Russia’s media watchdog on Thursday blocked the website of opposition leader Alexei Navalny after he posted a video alleging a deputy prime minister enjoyed lavish hospitality from a billionaire tycoon. State body Roskomnadzor has threatened to block any site distributing the video, including YouTube and Instagram, but both remain accessible in Russia.
“Roskomnadzor has blocked at the request of (Russian oligarch Oleg) Deripaska,” Navalny said on Twitter.
“The site remains accessible through some service providers, but this is temporary,” he added.
Roskomnadzor confirmed the website had been added to a list of banned pages that service providers are required to block, in comments to Russian news agencies.
Navalny, who has been barred from running against President Vladimir Putin in next month’s election, says the video appears to show The Russian leader’s former top foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko vacationing on the yacht of 50-year-old Oleg Deripaska, an aluminium magnate.
Both Deripaska and Prikhodko, who rarely makes comments to the media, denied the allegations.
The woman who Navalny said filmed the video, Nastya Rybka, describes herself as a model and has penned a book on how to seduce billionaires.
She has more than 60,000 followers on Instagram where she has posted indecent pictures.
Navalny has called for a boycott of Russia’s March 18 presidential election after he was barred from running over a criminal conviction he says is politically motivated.