Navalny
© Reuters / /Shamil Zhumatov
Alexei Navalny.
A senior figure in Russia's Communist Party has slammed a decision by the country's media watchdog Roskomnadzor to block the official website of opposition figure Alexey Navalny, accusing the authorities of abusing their power.

Speaking to radio station Ekho Moskvy, Alexander Yushchenko, the spokesman for Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, expressed his belief that it should not be possible to block a politician's website unless it contains extremist information.


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"I am not in favor of closing, banning, or blocking these resources," Yushchenko explained. "In my opinion, it is absolutely unacceptable. Just like it is unacceptable to remove candidates from elections."

With a parliamentary vote just around the corner, the authorities are abusing their power and using it to "prevent [opposition] candidates" from running against the ruling party, United Russia, he added.


Comment: Navalny poses little threat to United Russia.


"I don't read Navalny's website and haven't seen what it says. But if there are no calls for extremist activity there, it is an unnecessary measure. My personal opinion: there was no need to block it if there were no violations," he continued.


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Yushchenko's comments came after Roskomnadzor blocked Navalny's personal website, navalny.com. According to his team, a total of 49 websites linked to the opposition figure have now been blocked, including the websites of his close associates Leonid Volkov and Lyubov Sobol and the Anti-Corruption Foundation, Navalny's organization that is now designated as "foreign agent" and "extremist."

Navalny is currently serving a two-year and eight-month jail term for breaking the conditions of a suspended sentence handed to him in 2014, when he was found guilty of embezzling 30 million rubles ($400,000) from two companies, including the French cosmetics brand Yves Rocher. He was arrested upon landing back in Moscow from Germany, where he had been living after being transferred to Berlin to be treated for what he and his German doctors allege to be poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok.