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Under strong pressure from the Kremlin, Apple and Google have removed from their online store a strategic voting app created by supporters of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Parliamentary elections..
Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store received “multiple legal demands, not demands” from national communications regulators and law enforcement agencies on Friday morning, according to people close to the situation. Blocked further downloads of the app.
This move is the largest concession to date by Western tech companies to the Kremlin’s increasingly stringent demands on online content censorship. President Vladimir Putin said that if the Internet “does not obey formal legal rules and social moral laws,” the Internet can “collapse from the inside.”
A close-knit person also said that Google employees were subject to public and private threats of criminal prosecution if they did not comply with the Kremlin’s request to remove the app from stores and search engines.
They said armed men, who the staff thought were police officers, spent hours at Google’s Moscow office on Monday. The court official also visited the office the next day to demand that he follow the Moscow court’s ruling to remove the app from search results.
He said the threat to this type of staff was unprecedented and “has never been so worse.”
Both Apple and Google declined to comment on Friday.
Navalny’s staff chief Leonid Volkov said U.S. high-tech companies said after an app designed to encourage strategic voting against Putin’s United Russia party disappeared from the app store and Google Playstore. I fell into Kremlin’s blackmail. ”
Apple calls the Navalny Foundation “Extremist organizationAccording to a screenshot posted by Ivan Zhdanov, a former director of the opposition group.
Anti-corruption activists were arrested when they returned from Germany to Russia in January. Nerve gas addiction He accuses Putin of ordering.
After Navalny’s supporters organized protests in dozens of cities across the country, Russia responded with an unprecedented crackdown on an objection forced to expel most of his top allies.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin welcomed the technical group’s decision. “This app is illegal on our territory,” Peskov said, according to Interfax.
The move is Kremlin’s determination to dispel Internet dissent prior to a three-day vote in a country where United Russia is expected to easily win, despite growing dissatisfaction with the low standard of living. showed that.
As dozens of Navalny’s allies were attacked from ballots, his team is urging supporters to vote for the Kremlin-approved “faithful opposition” candidates recommended by the app. Peskov said the tactic was “provocative” and “harmful to voters.”
Russia has accused Silicon Valley companies of interfering with the vote by refusing to scrub all references to Navalny’s app from the Internet. Despite being blocked in the Google Play Store, app information is still available on Google Search.
Andrey Klimov, chairman of the “Defending National Sovereignty” committee in the Russian Senate, said Apple and Google have decided to remove the app from the store after a series of coercions from the Kremlin. ..
The Foreign Ministry summoned US ambassador John Sullivan last week to provide “irrefutable evidence” that tech companies such as Apple and Google violate Russian election law.
At a hearing on Thursday, lawmakers threatened to impose criminal charges and fines of 5% to 20% of the company’s local revenues if local Apple and Google staff did not comply.
“Google and Apple have made the only correct decision,” Klimov said in a video released Friday by the Commission’s channel on the messaging app Telegram. “It’s very easy. Everyone in Russian territory must obey the Russian Constitution and Russian law.”
Apple and Google drop Navalny app after Kremlin piles on pressure Source link Apple and Google drop Navalny app after Kremlin piles on pressure