YouTube has removed a video likening Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, citing a copyright claim.
The slickly produced video, titled Hitler 1945/Navalny 2018, had garnered more than 2 million views after it was posted anonymously on the popular website on April 19.
But it was unavailable at its original link as of April 22, with YouTube saying the video had been removed following a copyright claim by a user going by the Russian-language name Inokenty Traktorist.
Navalny, an anticorruption crusader who has emerged as the most prominent opposition figure in Russia, has announced his intention to run for president next year in an election widely expected to hand President Vladimir Putin another six-year term.
The video was published on the same day that Russia's independent television station Dozhd cited four unidentified officials as saying that the Kremlin would launch a broad campaign aimed at discrediting Navalny.
It highlighted Navalny's controversial flirtation with right-wing groups, including his attendance several years ago at an annual demonstration organized by ultranationalists.
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denied on April 21 that the Kremlin had anything to do with the video and suggested it may have been created by Navalny and his supporters.
Meanwhile, Navalny on April 22 opened his campaign headquarters in the central city of Kostroma, 300 kilometers northeast of Moscow.