Russia threatened to block at least 10 news outlets Monday unless they deleted coverage of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s video investigations into high-level corruption which are now formally banned as “extremist.”
The independent Dozhd broadcaster said it has received orders to remove six articles. The Ekho Moskvy radio station was ordered to remove 34, followed by the Meduza news website with 17, Znak.com with 13 and Svobodnyie Novosti with nine, Dozhd reported.
Several other regional outlets have also received orders to take down coverage of Navalny’s investigations.
The articles’ coverage ranged from a bombshell 2017 investigation implicating then-Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in illicit property deals to videos on the elite real estate owned by senior lawmakers, regional leaders and state defense industry executives — including President Vladimir Putin's alleged “palace.”
Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor cited the Prosecutor General’s Office in saying that the publications distribute materials belonging to an “extremist organization.”
Russia formally outlawed Navalny’s political and activist networks as “extremist” in June 2021, banning their activities within the country and putting members and financial donors at risk of prison. Several key Navalny allies have since fled Russia, while at least five former regional coordinators were placed under arrest on retractive charges of organizing an “extremist” group.
The media outlets said they will comply with the removal orders in order to avoid being blocked in Russia.
The Moscow Times’ Russian-language service complied with Roskomnadzor’s order to delete an article on Navalny’s investigation into Putin’s alleged $1.3 billion palace being named as Russian YouTube’s most popular video in 2021.
Roskomnadzor’s latest orders come less than two months after it forced the same news organizations to delete dozens of articles based on a blacklisted outlet’s investigative reports on Putin’s alleged extramarital daughter and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s alleged second wife.
Navalny’s close aide Leonid Volkov criticized the removals at the time as an “Orwellian” act of self-censorship.