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Navalny’s allies blame censorship telegrams in Reuters elections in Russia

© Reuters. Observers will watch live broadcasts from the polling stations of the Moscow Public Election Surveillance Center on September 18, 2021, on the second day of a three-day long-term vote in the parliamentary elections in Moscow, Russia. REUTERS / Evgenia Novozhenina


Tom Balmforce

Moscow (Reuters)-Allies of imprisoned Kremlin critics Alexei Nawarny follow Google and Apple (NASDAQ :) as a popular messaging app restricts access to voting campaigns in Russian parliamentary elections He later accused him of censoring the Telegram on Saturday.

Activists have already stowed the Alphabet (NASDAQ :) Google and Apple under Kremlin pressure after Navalny’s allies removed the app they wanted to use against the ruling party in the elections from the store. Is accused.

This app provides detailed recommendations on who to vote to challenge the party in favor of President Vladimirputin. This is one of the few steps left by Navalny’s allies after a thorough crackdown this year.

Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram, who pioneered the image of libertarians and resisted past censorship, said the platform blocked election campaign services, including those used by Navalny’s allies to recommend to voters. Said.

He said a decision was made due to Russia’s ban on the campaign after the vote began. This is similar to the ban in many other countries, which he considers legitimate.

Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmish blamed the move.

“It’s really shameful that censorship is imposed by private companies allegedly defending the idea of ​​freedom,” she wrote on Twitter (NYSE :).

Navalny’s political ally, Ivan Zhdanov, said he did not believe in Telegram’s legitimacy and said the move seemed to have been somehow agreed with Russian authorities.

Navalny’s camp said it wasn’t a knockout blow, as their voting recommendations were available elsewhere on social media.

However, it is seen as a potential milestone in Russia’s crackdown on the Internet and its conflict with US tech companies.

Russia has been seeking sovereignty on parts of the Internet for many years. There, anti-Kremlin politicians have supporters and media critical of Putin are active.

“Dangerous precedent”

The ruling United Russia party is still widely expected to win the election, despite the downgrade rating. Voting, which begins on Friday and continues until Sunday, follows the Kremlin’s largest ever crackdown on domestic enemies.

The Navalny team’s Telegram feed continued to work well on Saturday, including links to voter recommendations available in Russia via Google Docs.

In another telegram feed used by the team, activists said Russia had told Google to remove Google Docs recommendations, and a US company had asked Nawarney’s team to remove them.

Google didn’t immediately respond to the request for comment.

In a statement, Durov said Google and Apple’s restrictions on the Nagual app set a dangerous precedent, meaning that Telegram, which is widely used in Russia, is more vulnerable to government pressure.

He relies on Apple and Google for Telegram’s dominant position in the mobile operating system market, and his platform could resist Russia’s ban from 2018 to 2020 without them. Said he didn’t.

Russia tried to block Telegram in April 2018, but apparently failed to block it and lifted the ban more than two years later.

“Apple and Google’s block of apps sets a dangerous precedent that affects freedom of expression in Russia and around the world,” Durov said in a Telegram post.

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Navalny’s allies blame censorship telegrams in Reuters elections in Russia Navalny’s allies blame censorship telegrams in Reuters elections in Russia

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