Instagram Bows to Russian Censor’s Demands Against Anti-Putin Politician

“Shame on you, Instagram!” says Alexei Navalny

Instagram submitted to demands from Russia’s telecom regulator on Thursday after calling for the popular photo-sharing app to block access to posts from a political opponent of President Vladimir Putin.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny drew the ire of the Roskomnadzor for sharing several pictures of metals billionaire Oleg Deripaska yucking it up with Sergei Prikhodko, Russia’s deputy prime minister, on a yacht. Navalny also presented evidence a woman on Deripaska’s yacht was a prostitute.

The Russian government sided with Deripaska in a lawsuit claiming Navalny violated his right to privacy, and started to pressure tech companies this week to remove the posts. After a few days of inaction, Instagram agreed to pull the content on Thursday.

“When governments believe that something on the Internet violates their laws, they may contact companies and ask us to restrict access to that content. We review such requests carefully in light of local laws and where appropriate, we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory,” an Instagram spokesperson told TheWrap. “We are transparent about any content restrictions we make for government requests with local law in our Transparency Report.”

Navalny immediately blasted the Facebook-owned company for its decision on his Twitter.

“Instagram decided to comply with Russian illegal censorship requests and deleted some content about oligarch Deripaska,” tweeted Navalny. “Shame on you, Instagram!”

The popular politician has gained a following in Russia for calling out corruption in Putin’s administration — and he considered this another example of Kremlin-tied politicians being bought and sold. Deripaska has been linked to Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, who is indicted for Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Navalny also posted a YouTube video featuring his Instagram posts. The 25-minute video soon went viral, pulling in millions of views. YouTube hasn’t agreed to remove the video as of Thursday afternoon.

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