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Russian opposition figure Ilya Yashin (file photo)

Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin says authorities in Krasnogorsk, a city near Moscow, have been harassing his grandmother and the private retirement home she is living in.

In a statement on Facebook, on March 14, Yashin wrote that an aide to the Krasnogorsk city prosecutor, Yulia Krikovtseva called the retirement home administration and ordered them to stop services for Yashin's grandmother.

"She openly said that if my grandmother, Aleksandra Yashina, is not evicted from the retirement home, "that business will simply be destroyed." She threatened to unleash inspections, namely by fire-safety officials and Rospotrebnadzor [the consumer safety watchdog]," Yashin wrote.

According to Yashin, a police officer visited the retirement home "a week ago and politely advised the administration to get rid of 'that Yashina to avoid possible problems," but the retirement home officials rejected his "advice."

Earlier this month,Yashin, who is head of Moscow’s Krasnoselsky municipal district, accused Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin of launching a media campaign to depict him as someone who cannot take care of his own 85-year-old grandmother.

Yashin said in a video statement on YouTube that similar attacks on him and his grandmother took place last year after he announced his intention to take part in the Moscow mayoral elections.

"And now there are new elections soon, to the Moscow City Duma [city assembly], and again those in the Moscow Mayor's office are scared that I will participate in the polls," Yashin said, "That is why dirt and lies are again being thrown at me and my family, and speculations about my grandmother are being spread," Yashin said.

Yashin, a vocal Kremlin critic, co-founded the Solidarnost (Solidarity) opposition movement in 2008.

Another co-founder of Solidarnost, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, was shot dead near the Kremlin in February 2015.

In 2017, a Moscow court found five men from Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya guilty of Nemtsov's murder and sentenced them to lengthy prison terms.

But Nemtsov’s relatives and associates believe his killing was ordered at a higher level.

Mohammad Sarafraz is the former head of the state-run entity that runs all radio and TV broadcasting in Iran. (file photo)

Thousands of Iranian filmmakers, actors, and other artists are on a secret government blacklist that bans them from working or having their work shown in public.

That is the startling revelation made by the ex-head of Iran’s state-run TV and radio, the first time a former official has disclosed the existence of such a list.

Mohammad Sarafraz, the former head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the state-run entity that runs all radio and TV broadcasting in the Islamic republic, also revealed that the country’s notorious intelligence services are involved in the crackdown.

Speaking to the pro-reformist Shargh daily on March 12, Sarafraz said "intelligence organizations" had "insisted that thousands of people engaged in arts, drama, and making films and TV series should be banned from presenting their works through IRIB."

Sarafraz also said the "interference and meddling of intelligence organizations in IRIB’s internal affairs" was one of the reasons he abruptly resigned in May 2016, just 18 months into a five-year term as chief.

Sarafraz's brief term was marred by scandals and controversies, including an outcry over an alleged ethnic slur against the country’s ethnic Azeri minority during a children’s TV show in November 2015.

The head of the IRIB is directly appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and is accountable to nobody but him. The IRIB has come under criticism from rights activists and dissidents and has been accused of jamming independent TV and radio shows and carrying political and religious propaganda.

Tight Censorship Rules

Sarafraz's remarks expose the extent of the crackdown on independent artists who have fallen foul of the tight censorship rules imposed since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, when authorities first blacklisted scores of prominent filmmakers, actors, and screenwriters who earned fame before the revolution.

The new regime associated many of them with Western-style decadence. With few exceptions, they were barred from acting and directing any films in Iran. The IRIB and the new ruling establishment also imposed a media ban on the prerevolutionary celebrities.

Among them was celebrated Iranian actor and director Nasser Malek Motiee, who was under a media ban for nearly 40 years. His death in May 2018 prompted antigovernment protests in Tehran, with demonstrators condemning the ban imposed on Motiee.

The government’s strict censorship rules forbid almost all physical gestures of romantic love, limit the kinds of issues that can be discussed, and bar women from singing or dancing on screen. They also require actresses to wear the hijab -- clothing that masks the figure and covers the hair -- for indoor as well as outdoor scenes, even though in reality Iranian women generally dress at home as they wish and don't cover their hair.

Despite being suffocated by the strict code of censorship, Iranian film directors such as Jafar Panahi, Samira Makhmalbaf, and Asghar Farhadi have managed to produce recent films that are universally acclaimed and have won international awards including Oscars.

Director Jafar Panahi has been banned from making movies or leaving Iran over his support for the opposition Green Movement. (file photo)
Director Jafar Panahi has been banned from making movies or leaving Iran over his support for the opposition Green Movement. (file photo)

Yet many prominent directors have faced the wrath of hard-liners who accuse them of being pro-Western.

Some have ended up in jail, including Keyvan Karimi, who served a one-year prison sentence for "insulting the sacred" for his film Writing On The City, a documentary about political slogans written on the walls of buildings in Tehran.

Panahi has been banned from making movies or leaving the country over his support for the opposition Green Movement, which was formed to protest alleged fraud in the 2009 presidential vote and which was violently suppressed by authorities.

Panahi has made a few movies that have been screened outside the country despite the official ban, including a 2015 film, Taxi, which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Panahi has also remained outspoken on social media.

RFE/RL's Radio Farda contributed to this report.

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