Over 12 thousand Facebook users signed up to the event in the first 24 hours, signifying their support for the cause and their intention to join the rally. But today users in Russia complained the page was not available to them. The page is still open to users outside of Russia, but some users who registered their profiles in Russia can't see it either.
The discussion on the event page and on social media quickly turned to means of getting around the block, such as Tor, Hola, and other tools, which seem to work as long as a non-Russian VPN connection is used. Users also filed complaints to Facebook about the block.
Что-то в Фейсбуке мероприятия, назначенные на 15.1.15, плохо работают. Отправил им жалобу. pic.twitter.com/XVqORzUHuj
— Nikita Kulachenkov (@nekulachenkov) December 20, 2014
It seems like events planned for January 15, 2015 don't work so well on Facebook. Filed a complaint.
VKontakte, where activists created a similar group to organize for the rally, is also blocking the page for Russian users, but provides an explanation.
А так теперь выглядит группа во ВК. Безусловно, это приведёт к тому, что все забудут где в Москве Манежная площадь. pic.twitter.com/O5Y0j20mWn
— Alexey Navalny (@navalny) December 20, 2014
And this is what the VK group looks like. Of course this means everyone will forget where the Manezhnaya square is in Moscow. [screenshot text: This page is blocked at the request of the Russian Federation Prosecutor's office №27-27-2014 from 20 December 2014.]
Russian telecom watchdog Roscomnadzor told TV Rain the page was blocked at the request of the Prosecutor's office, because it violated a law forbidding to publish calls to participate in events that were not sanctioned by Russian authorities.
Navalny supporters quickly set up an alternative Facebook event page for the rally, which already counts over 4,000 RSVPs from users.
The protest rally is planned for January 15, 2015, when a Moscow court is expected to pronounce the verdict for Navalny and his brother, who have been accused of defrauding a French cosmetics company.
RuNet Echo has reached out to Facebook for comment, and a Facebook representative has said they are “looking into” the matter. We'll update the story when we have more details from them.