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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

Two Armenian children who were scheduled to be deported from the Netherlands have gone into hiding, a Dutch government spokesman said.

Justice Ministry spokesman Maarten Molenbeek said on September 8 that the minors, who have only been identified as Lili and Howick, went missing from the foster home where they were staying during the night, hours after an Amsterdam court rejected their final bid to stop their deportation.

The children, aged 12 and 13, came to the Netherlands with their mother in 2008.

Their asylum claim was rejected by Dutch courts that ruled Armenia is a safe country.

The children's mother, Armina Hambartsjumian, was deported to Armenia in 2017.

The case has attracted mass public attention, with the children appearing on national television to plead their case.

The children have never been to Armenia and do not speak Armenian.

Their lawyers argued unsuccessfully that their mother was unable to care for them properly.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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