domingo, 28 de diciembre de 2014
Russian Facebook blocks event page for opposition rally
Page inviting Alexei Navalny’s supporters to attend a rally on the day his case’s verdict is announced is blocked to Russian users
Russian Facebook has blocked a page inviting people to attend a rally in support of an opposition politician.
On Friday a page for was created for an event on 15 January, the day that Alexei Navalny, a critic of President Vladimir Putin, will hear the verdict in a controversial embezzlement case that could see him sent him to prison for 10 years.
A spokesman for Russia’s internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, said on Sunday that the page was blocked on the orders of the general prosecutor.
The prosecutor “demanded to limit access to a number of resources calling for an unsanctioned mass event, including social networking groups. The demand has been fulfilled,” RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Vadim Ampelonsky, a spokesman for Roskomnadzor, as saying.
The Facebook event, called “Public gathering to discuss the verdict”, had over 12,000 people signed up at the time it was blocked and now opens only through a non-Russian IP and only for non-Russian users.
Navalny – whose leadership role in the opposition was built up over years of writing a popular anti-corruption blog and through carefully managed online campaigns – criticised the social network for bending under pressure from the Kremlin.
“It’s a rather unpleasant and surprising behaviour by Russian Facebook. I thought they would at least demand a court order rather than rush to block pages as soon as crooks from the Roskomnadzor ask,” he wrote on his personal page.
A former US ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, wrote on his Twitter blogthat the block set a “horrible precedent” and that Facebook should correct its “mistake” as soon as possible.
Supporters quickly signed up to newly created event pages and made some blasting Facebook’s “censorship”.
A Facebook spokeswoman told The Washington Post that the company was investigating the matter.
Navalny, a 38-year-old lawyer, is accused with his brother Oleg of embezzling nearly 27m roubles (more than half a million dollars at the exchange rate at the time) when a cosmetics company, Yves Rocher Vostok, used their delivery firm.
The case is only one of many brought against him by the Russian authorities. A previous investigation of embezzlement at a state timber company saw him sentenced to five years in prison, though the sentence was later suspended.
Navalny, who has spent nearly a year under house arrest, said the case is based on “utter lies”.