YouTube begins deleting hyperlinks to Navalny’s ‘SmartVote’ initiative and suspending channels that promote the project
YouTube has started deleting hyperlinks to Alexey Navalny’s “SmartVote” project — a strategic voting initiative designed to identify candidates with the best statistical odds of defeating politicians from Russia’s ruling political party, United Russia.
On Thursday, the media outlet Sota Vision reported that YouTube removed its SmartVote hyperlink from a video streamed in August 2019 during opposition protests in Moscow. According to the notification received from YouTube’s administrators, the hyperlink violated the video-hosting service’s community rules on “spam, deceptive practices, and scam policies.” If Sota Vision commits another such infraction, it will lose the ability to upload videos and stream content for a week.
Sota Vision says YouTube acted in response to a complaint filed by Roskomnadzor (RKN), Russia’s federal censor.
Opposition politician Ilya Yashin and editors at the newspaper Novaya Gazeta say they received similar hyperlink deletion notifications from YouTube. In fact, YouTube has already suspended Novaya Gazeta from posting new content for the next week. The newspaper says it doesn’t know if the temporary ban is connected to RKN.
Alexey Navalny announced the SmartVote initiative back in November 2018. RKN promptly added the project’s main website to its list of banned online materials in Russia, claiming that it violates the country’s privacy laws.