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Google Issues Warning to Navalny Over Billionaire Bribery Investigation

Alexei Navalny Navalny Youtube Channel

Google has warned that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s YouTube channel will be blocked if his team does not remove an excerpt of his graft investigation into billionaire Oleg Deripaska and a senior government figure.

A court injunction in Deripaska’s native region on the Black Sea coast has ordered the removal of 14 Instagram posts and seven YouTube videos saying they breach his right to privacy, threatening to otherwise block both platforms by Wednesday. Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor blacklisted the materials, including Navalny’s website, following the court order.

In compliance with Roskomnadzor’s request, YouTube has threatened Navalny’s camp to "block the content" unless it removed a video mentioning its investigation of Deripaska, according to an email that Navalny’s team shared on Monday.

The Roskomnadzor and YouTube emails single out the video for removal, but not the 25-minute investigation that was published on Navalny’s own YouTube channel and was viewed more than 4 million times.

The anti-Kremlin campaigner has said that the court order threatened to shut down his website after he published an online film alleging a corrupt relationship between Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko.

The order was issued a day after Navalny claimed that Deripaska and Prikhodko discussed state matters on a yacht off the coast of Norway, weeks ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

He used social media posts of a self-described "oligarch pickup artist" who calls herself Nastya Rybka, as well as open-source flight and maritime transport data, in the video investigation.

The metals tycoon’s privacy case lodged against Rybka is scheduled to be heard on March 1, according to Krasnodar region’s Ust-Labinsk court documents.

Navalny wrote on his blog that Roskomnadzor has threatened at least seven publications with shutdowns unless they delete their coverage of the investigation.

These include the prominent men’s magazine Maxim, which was reportedly forced to remove a selection of Deripaska and Rybka-themed jokes.

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