The newspaper Kommersant has deleted from its website a series of quotes from the transcript of an interview with opposition leader Alexey Navalny. The original interviewer aired on the radio station Kommersant FM (which belongs to the same publishing house as the website). The deleted quotes include the following statement:
“When I say ‘crooks and thieves,’ I am referring to Putin and Medvedev, and the Rotenbergs, and everyone else, ever. I don’t need a court ruling, even though I’m a lawyer—they are, in their very essence, crooks and thieves.”
In another deleted statement, Navalny accused Putin of “starting a war in Europe” and “shooting down an airplane," in a reference to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
The previous version of the interview is available in Google’s cache (and again here). Curiously, Navalny’s famous phrase, “crooks and thieves,” which refers to Russia’s ruling United Russia party, has often been quote in previous articles published by Kommersant.
Kommersant later explained that they deleted the interview fragments following recommendations from its legal department, which feared the language might violate Russia’s laws on the media.
Kommersant has been known to delete articles after publishing them on its website. In 2013, it deleted a news report on Navalny’s investigation into Russian officials’ lavish countryside residences. Also in 2013, Kommersant deleted a publication about President Vladimir Putin’s decree banning protests in Sochi.