Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor has asked TikTok and the Russian social media network VKontakte to take down posts “encouraging” young people to take part in anti-Putin protests in the wake of opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s return to Russia.
Officials asked both platforms to remove content “disseminating information aimed at involving minors in committing illegal actions”, at the request of Russia’s prosecutor general, the organisation announced on 20 January.
The censorship call follows viral clips from users pledging to attend protests supporting Navalny on 23 January. “I am asking you to go out on the streets. I want to live in a free country; I don’t want to be scared to go out on the streets,” one young woman said in her Tik Tok video. Others filmed themselves as they put on their clothes, alongside captions: “this is me saying goodbye to my parents as I go for a walk on 23 January,” or “saying goodbye to the friends who don’t want to go for a walk with me on 23 January.”
Navalny was detained on 17 January after flying from Berlin to Moscow, and jailed following a makeshift, last minute court hearing in a suburban police station. He was hospitalised in Germany in 2020 after he was poisoned by a suspected nerve agent in Siberia which Navalny and many western leaders say was perpetrated by the Kremlin.