Saturday, October 23, 2021

Google, Apple Accused Of ‘Political Censorship’ After Removing Voting App As Russian Polls Open

Apple and Google on Friday removed a tactical voting app linked to Kremlin critic and jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny from their online stores, as parliamentary elections began across Russia for three days of voting Was.

The move was prompted after Russian officials pressured the US tech giant to remove the app from its stores, saying that refusing to do so would amount to interference in its parliamentary election, while the companies were fined. Threats will also be given.

The app is part of the “Smart Voting” project, which was created by a team of Navalny supporters. It was designed to conduct a tactical voting campaign to channel opposition votes from the ruling political party of United Russia-President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny’s aide Ivan Zhdanov said on social media that the move by Apple and Google to remove the app is “shameful” and amounts to “political censorship”.

“The removal of the Navalny App from the Store is a shameful act of political censorship,” Zhdanov wrote on Twitter. “Russia’s authoritarian government and propaganda will be thrilled.”

The two companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though Zhdanov added a statement Friday that appears to be from Apple, saying the app was removed from its stores because it is illegal in Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that the presidential administration “definitely” welcomes the companies’ decision to remove the app, as it falls into compliance with Russian laws. Peskov said the app was “outside the law” in Russia.

This weekend’s parliamentary election is widely seen as an important part of Putin’s efforts to tighten his grip on power ahead of the 2024 presidential election, for which control of parliament is crucial.

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Earlier this month, Russian authorities also blocked access to the smart voting website, which aims to identify candidates who are in the strongest position to channel opposition votes in the September 19 election, though some Internet Users can still access it.

In an Instagram post earlier this month, Navalny’s team said the move to block the smart voting website shows Russian officials are “panic” and “scared”.

Meanwhile, Navalny published a step-by-step guide on his Instagram Stories explaining how supporters can try to bypass the block.

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny attends a rally to mark the 5th anniversary of the assassination of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and to protest proposed amendments to the country’s constitution, in Moscow, Russia February 29, 2020. (Shamil Zumatov/Reuters)

In June, the Moscow City Court outlawed the Navalny Foundation for Fighting Corruption and a network of its regional offices as extremist organizations. The ruling barred people affiliated with the groups from seeking public office and gave them long prison sentences.

Navalny, Putin’s most steadfast political challenger, was arrested in January on his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from the poison of a nerve agent he blamed on the Kremlin—charges dismissed by Russian authorities. Had done it. He was given a 2 1/2-year prison sentence in February for violating the terms of a suspended sentence stemming from a 2014 embezzlement conviction, which he denounced as politically motivated.

Putin, 68, has been in power as president or prime minister for more than two decades. He pushed for constitutional changes last year that helped him run again in 2024, when his current six-year term ended. The changes would allow him to potentially remain in power until 2036.

Putin signed legislation earlier this year to bar members of groups deemed extremist, including Navalny’s aides, from running for office. Critics say the move was designed to stamp out opposition to United Russia. The Kremlin denies the action is political.

Isabel van Bruggen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

from ntd news

Lorenz Duchamps

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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