Instagram removes posts linked to Putin rival after Moscow’s demand

File photo showing Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaking after submitting his documents as candidate in the coming presidential elections. (Reuters)
Updated 17 February 2018
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Instagram removes posts linked to Putin rival after Moscow’s demand

MOSCOW: Facebook-owned Instagram has blocked posts in Russia related to bribery allegations made by the country’s prominent opposition leader against leading figures in a YouTube video.
The move follows a demand by the country’s Internet censor that Instagram restrict access to posts on its platform connected to allegations made by Russian opposition leader Alexey Navally, western reports have said.
Navalny, a fierce rival for Russian President Vladimir Putin, posted a video earlier this month, that allegedly shows the billionaire Oleg Deripaska meeting with Russia’s deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko aboard a yacht.
The 25-minute video, which has been watched more than five million times, claims that a bribery has taken place.
Navalny accused Instagram of having given in to an “illegal censorship request.” “Shame on you, @instagram!” he added.
Navalny has been barred from standing against President Putin in next month’s election because of a separate corruption conviction, which he says was politically motivated.
Instagram’s response contrasts with that of Google’s YouTube service, which had been ordered to block several clips before the end of Wednesday, but it has taken no such action.
The issue highlights a key debate about the choices US Internet giants, such as Facebook and Google, have to make in order to operate in certain markets.


Sri Lanka ready to welcome toppled Maldives strongman

In this Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018 photo, Maldivian president Yameen Abdul Gayoom, center, leaves a polling station after casting his vote during presidential election day in Male, Maldives. (AP)
Updated 1 min ago
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Sri Lanka ready to welcome toppled Maldives strongman

COLOMBO: The defeated strongman of the Maldives, Abdulla Yameen, is welcome in neighboring Sri Lanka, Colombo said Tuesday, two days after his surprise defeat in presidential elections.
Sri Lanka has long been a haven for dissidents from the nearby Maldives over years of political upheaval, including for hundreds of opponents of Yameen since he became president in 2013.
In a phone call on Monday, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe “informed Mr. Yameen that he is welcome in Colombo at any time,” the premier’s office said.
Wickremesinghe made the call after hosting Yameen’s arch rival and former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed at a luncheon meeting on Monday.
Nasheed, the atoll nation’s first democratically elected leader, was sentenced to 13 years in jail after narrowly losing the 2013 elections to Yameen.
He fled to London where he sought refuge and now lives in Sri Lanka.
Sunday’s election was held with all key opposition leaders behind bars or in exile, leaving the little-known Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to challenge Yameen.
In a major upset, Solih won with 58 percent of the vote.
Solih’s victory was greeted warmly by India as Yameen had drifted closer to China, borrowing heavily from New Delhi’s regional rival to invest in infrastructure.
Declaring victory, Solih demanded Yameen immediately release all political prisoners in the country. A Maldivian court freed five of them on Monday night.
Many more are still in jail, including Yameen’s estranged half-brother and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, 80, who is expected to be released shortly.
Under intense international pressure, Yameen conceded defeat and pledged to allow a peaceful transition when he formally steps down on November 17.
Rights group Amnesty International called Tuesday on Solih to “break with the repression and human rights violations of the past and chart a fresh course where human rights are at the heart” of government policy.
The European Union, which had earlier threatened sanctions, said Monday that it would “continue to closely review the situation.”