On the first day of the legislative elections, the Russian opposition accused the giants Google and Apple of "censorship" after the suppression of an anti-Kremlin mobile electoral application, which belongs to the movement of the imprisoned opponent Alexeï Navalny.

The withdrawal of this application comes after months of repression which have dismissed the detractors of Vladimir Putin from these elections scheduled over three days, from Friday to Sunday.

"The whole Russian state and even the big tech companies are against us, but that doesn't mean we can give up," Navalny's team channel said on Telegram.

The so-called “smart voting” strategy

Leonid Volkov, exiled opposition leader, accused Apple and Google of "censorship" and "giving in to the Kremlin's blackmail" by removing the software from their stores.

As almost no anti-Putin candidate has been allowed to run for the legislative elections, Navalny's supporters have developed a so-called “smart vote” strategy intended to support the candidate - often Communist - best placed to put in difficulty that of the ruling party, United Russia.

The application made it possible to know for which competitor to vote in each legislative constituency but also during dozens of local and regional elections.

In the past, this approach had met with some success, especially in Moscow in 2019.

Threats on Google and Apple

Google and Apple did not immediately comment.

But Moscow has lately multiplied admonitions to Internet giants refusing to remove content deemed illegal, including those of the Navalny movement banned for "extremism" since June.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Apple has removed this application for fear of reprisals for its employees, after having received "threats of arrest" in Russia.

Another source assured that Google also made this decision "under unprecedented duress", citing "serious public threats" against "local employees".

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  • By the Web

  • Social networks

  • Censorship

  • Mobile app

  • Opposition

  • Apple

  • Google

  • Alexei Navalny

  • Russia

  • Vladimir Poutine