Kremlin critic Navalny’s website blocked by Russian regulator

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FILE – In this Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands in a cage in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia. A doctor for imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is in the third week of a hunger strike, said on Saturday April 17, 2021, his health is deteriorating rapidly and the 44-year-old Kremlin critic could be on the verge of death. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

MOSCOW (Reuters) — Russian Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor has blocked jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s website, navalny.com, as well as 48 websites of people and organizations affiliated with him, Navalny’s team said on Monday.

The move comes just weeks ahead of a September parliamentary election and follows a court ruling in June which approved prosecutors’ request to declare organizations linked to Navalny as extremist, effectively outlawing them.

Close Navalny ally Leonid Volkov said on social media site Telegram that the team would soon explain how it plans to sidestep the blocking.

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent domestic critic, is serving a 2-1/2 year jail sentence for parole violations he says were trumped up. His jailing has strained Russia’s relations with the West, which has demanded that he be freed and criticized the extremism ruling.

Navalny’s team is promoting a so-called “smart voting” strategy to back the ruling United Russia party’s strongest opponents in every constituency in the September election.

Reporting by Maxim Rodionov Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Jon Boyle and Peter Graff.

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