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Google Reportedly Removes Navalny Ad After Russian Government Complains

Protest against proposed increases in the retirement age in Barnaul on September 2.
Protest against proposed increases in the retirement age in Barnaul on September 2.

Internet giant Google has reportedly removed from its YouTube website a paid advertisement placed by supporters of Russian opposition figure Aleksei Navalny urging Russians to participate in a protest set for September 9.

Leonid Volkov, a senior Navalny aide, posted on Telegram on September 8 that Google had "complied with an illegal demand by the Russian authorities" to remove the advertisement.

Russia's Central Election Commission earlier sent a request to Google to remove the advertisement, saying it violated election laws that call for a "day of silence" on election matters ahead of voting.

Russia will hold regional and local elections on September 9.

The Prosecutor-General's Office, the Federal Antimonopoly Service, and the Roskomnadzor media regulator sent Google similar requests.

Navalny has called for nationwide protests on September 9 against a much-reviled government proposal to raise retirement ages.

Navalny's Anticorruption Foundation said the pension-reform protest has nothing to do with the elections and that the advertisement contains no election-related slogans or appeals.

Volkov noted that the advertisement was blocked even in regions where there is no voting set for September 9 and in regions where authorities have authorized the pension-reform protests.

"The corporate lawyers at Google simply don't understand that there can be situations – like the current one – and countries – like Russia – in which the demands of the authorities are often illegal," Volkov wrote.

With reporting by Novaya Gazeta and Znak
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