Russia is threatening to block YouTube and Instagram over video of oligarch

Russia has threatened to block access to YouTube and Instagram if the sites do not remove video and photographs that show a senior government official sailing on a yacht with a billionaire oligarch, who has links with the former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Russia’s state-controlled media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, on Saturday ordered that 14 Instagram posts and seven YouTube videos be deleted that show metals magnate Oleg Deripaska on a yacht with a Russian deputy prime minister, Sergey Prikhodko, and a woman who has described herself as an escort.

The watchdog listed the posts on its register of banned sites after Deripaska won an injunction from a court in his hometown Ust-Labinsk, which ruled they violated his privacy. Roskomnadzor said it had informed the sites that they must delete the images within three days.

The images are at the heart of the public battle between Deripaska and the anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, who first drew attention to the posts in an investigative video piece he released last week. In the report, he accused the oligarch of bribing Prikhodko by hosting him on the yacht in August 2016.

Alexey Navalny/YouTube
Russian politician Alexey Navalny in a video on his youtube channel.

Navalny has built an anti-Kremlin political movement around similar investigations into alleged official corruption and was recently barred by a court from running against Russian President Vladimir Putin in elections this year. In the 25-minute video, there are accusations of Deripaska flying Prikhodko to the yacht in Norway on his private plane and of allegedly paying for the services of six more escort girls aboard the boat.

Navalny’s video also attracted attention because of a speculative link he makes in it with the 2016 U.S. election. He alleges, without offering proof, that on the yacht Deripaska may have been passing information to Prikhodko that he acquired from Manafort.

Manafort is a former business partner of Deripaska and…

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