YouTube temporarily blocked Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s call for a nationwide boycott of the upcoming presidential elections over what is said were "illegal hashtags."
The opposition leader announced a boycott of the March 2018 elections this week after officials barred him from running as a presidential candidate due to a prior criminal conviction.
YouTube allegedly took down the video because it contained “illegal” hashtags, Navalny explained in a post on his website, citing a formal explanation from YouTube.
The video contained hashtags including #strike #Navalny2018 and #28January. It was back on the website later on Thursday, this time without hashtags.
“YouTube eventually told us that the video call to participate [in the boycott] on Jan. 28 was deleted erroneously and they apologize,” Navalny wrote on his blog that day.
The 41-year-old anti-corruption activist suggested that the Kremlin had infiltrated YouTube with "moles," citing the rise of pro-government videos in top-trending lists and frequent bans on anti-Kremlin content.
“It’s becoming obvious that there is ill intent and that this is deliberate discrimination on political grounds,” he said.
He has asked YouTube for a clarification.