Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny sits before a court hearing in Moscow, August 14, 2014.
Maxim Zmeyev—Reuters
December 23, 2014 3:00 AM EST

Facebook has waded into a political controversy in Russia after it blocked a page promoting a demonstration in favor of prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

The social networking site acquiesced to the request of the Russian government’s Internet monitor Roskomnadzor Saturday after the event site attracted more than 12,000 attendees, New York Times reports.

Navalny, a runner-up in Moscow’s 2013 mayoral election, has had several run-ins with Kremlin authorities and has been under house arrest since February pending a criminal case against him.

Vadim Ampelonsky, a spokesman for Roskomnadzor, said that Facebook deleted the page since it called for an “unsanctioned mass event.” However, supporters of Navalny accuse Facebook of kowtowing too easily to President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.

“We were very surprised and very disappointed because of the speed with which Facebook has satisfied an ordinary request of Roskomnadzor without even contacting the organizers of the event,” said Kira Yarmysh, a press aide to Navalny.

The company frequently gets requests from governments to block content, but maintains it has thorough policies to handle them.

[New York Times]

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