Alexei Navalny has 1.7 million YouTube subscribers, and his videos often get even more views. Russia wants to stop them from being seen, and it’s reportedly threatening to ban YouTube from the country if the social media platform doesn’t comply.
Navalny is a Russian opposition leader who was recently banned from running for president, and on his YouTube videos, he reportedly discusses corruption cases against the country’s leaders, including Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko. According to Mother Jones, Russia wants his videos to disappear.
A Russian court recently ruled that the videos violated Prikhodko’s right to privacy, and it gave YouTube and Instagram until this Wednesday to take down the material.
As of this writing, though, Facebook has allowed the video to stay on its platform, though Instagram acquiesced to the request. YouTube didn’t respond to Mother Jones requests for comment.
Last week, the Washington Post reported that Navalny accused a government official of accepting a bribe from one of Russia’s richest men that included a yacht ride and multiple female escorts. Navalny said he discovered incriminating Instagram posts with the billionaire and Prikhodko from 2016.
In the video, Navalny said, “An oligarch takes a top government official on a ride on his own yacht—that’s a bribe. An oligarch pays for all of this, including young women from escort agencies. Believe it or not, this is also a bribe.”
The Russian government denied the accusations, but one woman posted a video on Instagram where she said she had been gang-raped on the yacht.
The reason Russia would likely have to block all of YouTube from its residents is because, as Mother Jones writes, “many Russian internet providers don’t have the technical ability to selectively block particular URLs. To comply with the … order, they’ll instead have to block access to YouTube and Instagram entirely—unless the owners of the offending posts opt to delete them independently.”
According to Mother Jones, a Navalny aide who runs the YouTube channel said Google has encouraged that the video be deleted.
— Oksana Baulina (@oksana_baulina) February 12, 2018
If Navalny doesn’t remove the video, the email sent from Google to Navalny’s aide said, “Google may be forced to block the content.”