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Facebook shuts down page after Putin applies the pressure

Russian authorities have convinced Facebook to shut down a page inviting people to a protest in support of an opposition politician waiting to hear the result of a controversial court case.

An event page was created for 15 January when Alexei Navalny, the biggest critic of the Russian president Vladimir Putin, will hear his verdict

Navalny, a 38-year-old lawyer, is accused together with his brother Oleg of embezzling nearly 27 million rubles (more than half a million dollars at the exchange rate at the time) when Yves Rocher Vostok, the company's Russian wing, used their delivery firm.

Roskomnadzor, a site that monitors internet censorship in Russia, said the block was ordered by the general prosecutor.

The prosecutor "demanded to limit access to a number of resources calling for an unsanctioned mass event, including social networking groups. The demand has been fulfilled," said the spokesman of the state’s new agency, RIA Novosti, reports.

Obviously, Navalny was not pleased, criticising Facebook in Russia for listening to Roskomnadzor without questioning their authority.

"It's a rather unpleasant and surprising behaviour by Russian Facebook. I thought they would at least demand a court order rather than rush to block pages as soon as crooks from the Roskomnadzor ask," he wrote on his personal page.

The Facebook event is called “Public gathering to discuss the verdict”, and at the time of the block had 12.000 people attending. It opens for users outside of Russia, or accessing on a non-Russian IP address.