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Russia Urges Social Networks To Stop Promotion Of 'Illegal' Protests To Youth

People attend a rally to demand that opposition candidates be allowed to run in upcoming local elections in Moscow in August 2019.

Russia's telecommunications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has urged social-media networks, including the video-sharing app TikTok, to stop the spreading of posts by users that call on Russia's youth to take part in "illegal" public gatherings, such as one planned for this weekend to support Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny.

In a January 20 statement, which was also placed on the VKontakte social network, Roskomnadzor said the request to TikTok had been sent at the request of the Prosecutor-General's Office.

"Materials are being spread via TikTok, calling young users of the social network to take part in illegal mass protest events," the statement says.

"We request that you immediately take comprehensive measures to prevent the distribution of such unlawful information on the TikTok platform," it added.

Roskomnadzor's statement comes two days after opposition politician Navalny called on supporters and other Russians to start street protests following his arrest on January 17.

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic, was detained and later jailed for alleged parole violations upon his return to Russia after being treated in Germany because he was poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in August.

The 44-year-old accuses Putin of ordering his assassination and has called on Russians to "take to the streets" to protest against his detention. His team has called for a nationwide protest on January 23.

The Kremlin denies any role in Navalny's poisoning.

Russian law prohibits calling on anyone under the age of 18 to attend unauthorized street protests. At the time the law was approved in 2018, Navalny said it was designed to impede his own activities.

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