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Russian Prosecutor-General Said To Be Seeking To Block Calls For Protest

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (center) at his appeal hearing in Moscow City Court on March 30.
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (center) at his appeal hearing in Moscow City Court on March 30.

A supporter of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny says that the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office has asked state media regulator to block several social-media accounts that have issued calls for street protests on April 2.

On March 31, Vladislav Zdolnikov, an IT consultant for Navalny's Anticorruption Foundation, posted scans of what appeared to be letters from prosecutors demanding that Roskomnadzor block access to two videos on YouTube, two publications on the Russian social network VKontakte, and one on LiveJournal.

The videos and posts called for people to gather in downtown Moscow on April 2 for an antigovernment protest with several demands including the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, an end to military operations in Syria and Ukraine, the exoneration of Navalny, and the payment of compensation to activists detained by police during a large protest in Moscow on March 26.

It was unclear who was behind the calls for a protest on April 2 and whether they were genuine. There was no immediate comment from the Prosecutor General's Office.

Police detained more than 1,000 people in Moscow during the March 26 protest, which was organized by Navalny and his foundation. Tens of thousands of people took part in the anticorruption demonstrations in dozens of other cities across Russia on that day.

Navalny was detained as well and is serving a 15-day jail sentence on an administrative charge of disobeying police. He was also fined 20,000 rubles ($350) for organizing what the authorities say was an illegal protest.

Navalny is planning to run for president in a March 2018 election, in which President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to seek a new six-year term, but Russian authorities say that a financial-crimes conviction bars Navalny from seeking office.

Navalny has been convicted in two trials that he says were politically motivated punishment for his opposition activity and his group's reports alleging corruption among senior allies of Putin.

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