Russia’s media regulator has blocked 49 websites linked to jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, his ally said Monday, as pressure mounts on the movement of the opposition leader ahead of parliamentary elections in the autumn.
Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal domestic critic, was arrested in January after he returned to Russia following months of treatment in Germany for a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin.
He was subsequently jailed for two-and-a-half years on old fraud charges and his organisations were banned as “extremist”, barring members and sponsors from running in parliamentary elections in September.
“By the decision of the prosecutor general’s office, 49 websites were blocked simultaneously,” key Navalny aide Leonid Volkov said on his Telegram channel on Monday.
The blocked websites include Navalny’s main website, the website of his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), the websites of key allies and of Navalny’s regional offices that disbanded earlier this year.
AFP journalists said Navalny’s website was unavailable in Russia.
“The night of the long knives,” Volkov wrote in reference to a bloody purge of military and political rivals launched by Adolf Hitler in Germany.
Volkov said the only website that was not blocked by the state censor was “Smart Voting”, which is dedicated to a Navalny-proposed strategy to back candidates best placed to defeat Kremlin-linked politicians in elections.
This tactic has seen the ruling United Russia party lose a number of seats in recent local elections.
AFP has reached out to the Roskomnadzor media watchdog for comment.
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