A Russian state agency charged with overseeing media and blocking websites has forced at least one news outlet to take down a photograph of graffiti critical of President Vladimir Putin.
Police in St. Petersburg detained supporters of liberal presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak on Sunday on suspicion of spray painting the phrase “Against Putin” on a frozen river. Putin is widely expected to win a fourth presidential term in elections scheduled for March 18.
On Monday, the St. Petersburg-based Business News Agency said it was ordered by a local branch of the state media watchdog Roskomnadzor to remove the photograph of the graffiti from the river.
“We can’t display the protesters’ slogan at the urgent request of Roskomnadzor,” the agency wrote in a text superimposed on the graffiti while keeping the photo of the frozen Fontanka River intact, as seen in a picture tweeted by local activists.
The Mediazona news website later reported that two other St. Petersburg-based news outlets had removed the photographs from their coverage of the activists’ arrests.