Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny on Saturday criticized Twitter for banning US President Donald Trump from the social platform following Wednesday’s attack at the US Capitol in Washington, DC.
In a Twitter thread, Navalny said he thinks the ban is “an unacceptable act of censorship.”
“This precedent will be exploited by the enemies of freedom of speech around the world. In Russia as well. Every time when they need to silence someone, they will say: ‘this is just common practice, even Trump got blocked on Twitter,'” Navalny wrote.
Navalny is an opposition candidate in Russia, who has campaigned against Russian President Vladimir Putin on anti-corruption grounds. He has been arrested several times and lead several demonstrations against alleged corruption within the Russian government and
Navalny was poisoned in August 2020 while on a domestic flight in Russia and was taken to Charite Hospital in Berlin to recover. Several sources have said he was poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent.
Twitter’s double standards?
The Kremlin critic said that although Twitter is a private company, “we have seen many examples in Russian and China of such private companies becoming the state’s best friends and the enablers when it comes to censorship.”
He complained that “cold-blooded murderers (Putin or Maduro) and liars and thieves (Medvedev)” have Twitter accounts.
Navalny also accused the social media giant of committing censorship, saying “those who denied COVID-19 exist freely and communicate on Twitter.”
“Their words have cost thousands of lives. And yet, it was Trump who got banned publicly and ostentatiously. Such selectivity indicates that this was an act of censorship.”
Navalny compared himself with Trump, saying one would “get an 80% accurate Kremlin’s answer as to why my name can’t be mentioned on Russian TV and I shouldn’t be allowed to participate in any elections.”
The Russian politician suggested that Twitter needs “to create some sort of a committee that can make such decisions.”
Why was Trump banned?
The US president was permanently banned from Twitter on Friday after Wednesday’s attack on the US Capitol by his supporters. Trump addressed protesters just before they stormed the building, and told them, “we’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women,” as they formally recognized the 2020 US presidential election results.
The violence temporarily suspended the count, but later confirmed former Vice President Joe Biden as the next president.
In a blog post, Twitter said, “we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
Trump was one of the most popular figures on Twitter, sending more than 57,000 tweets to tens of millions of followers from the @realDonaldTrump handle for over a decade. Some of Trump’s most interesting moments of his presidency took place on twitter, including calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “little rocket man” and not using a full sentence to discuss “the constant negative press covfefe.”
Trump was also stopped from using the linked accounts, including @POTUS, and the Team Trump account.
Trump supporters have widely bashed the president’s ban on Twitter. Texas Senator Ted Cruz wondered, “Why should a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires have a monopoly on political speech?”
President Trump has also been banned from several other social media outlets, including Twitch, Facebook and Instagram for at least the next two weeks.