Russia's media regulator has moved to prohibit material related to an investigation by opposition leader Aleksei Navalny that exposed a meeting between a Russian billionaire and a senior government official on a yacht.
Rozkomnadzor ruled the investigative report on the connections between billionaire Russian metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska and a deputy Russian prime minister contained prohibited information and placed it on its register of sites containing information not to be distributed in Russia, Russian media reported February 10.
Navalny called the move "censorship" and urged "the dissemination of the video with the investigation as widely as possible," according to RFE/RL’s Russian Service.
On February 9, RFE/RL's Russian Service said it received an e-mail notification from Rozkomnadzor stating the Navalny investigation on ties between Deripaska and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko contained material whose dissemination in Russia was prohibited.
At least one other news site in Russia, Mediazona, an independent news source, also reportedly received a similar notification from Rozkomnadzor.
Navalny's investigation, published on February 8 on his website and a video version on YouTube, is based largely on the social-media account of a woman who claims to have had an affair with Deripaska.
The woman, who calls herself Nastya Rybka, posted several videos in 2016 showing Deripaska on his yacht talking with Prikhodko.
Navalny quoted public records suggesting that Prikhodko spent several days on the yacht and was flown there by Deripaska's private jet.
Navalny's foundation earlier published documents suggesting that Prikhodko, a longtime public servant with no significant private income, owns a luxurious mansion outside Moscow.
Deripashka rejected Navalny’s report.
In a February 9 statement, Deripaska denied committing any "unlawful actions" and warned media outlets not to disseminate "these mendacious accusations."
Deripaska's statement did not specify which accusations he was referring to or deny that that he met with Prikhodko on the yacht.
An unnamed representative for Deripaska told the Interfax news agency on February10 that the businessman was filing a lawsuit against Rybka and a Belarus-born man who goes by the name Alex Lesley for posting details of his private life on social media. Navalny was not named in the suit, the representative said.
According to an AFP report, the Navalny investigation had received more than 2 million views on YouTube as of February 9.
With reporting by AP and AFP