Telegram messaging service has blocked the so-called Smart Voting chatbot of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny,

The Moscow Times reported on


The bot provides Navalny's supporters with information about candidate candidates who are critical of the Kremlin so they can vote strategically.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov says bot was removed following Apple and Google, who removed Navalny's election app on Friday.

The app has the same function as the blocked chatbot.

Earlier this month, Russia demanded that Google and Apple remove the app from their stores.

The country threatened fines for the tech companies.

Russia said it saw a refusal as US interference in the Russian parliamentary elections.

Durov says the removal of election-related bots has to do with Russia's ban on campaigning while voting.

“We stand by our decision to remove the bot and ask Telegram users to respect our choice,” Durov wrote on his Telegram channel on Friday.

Still, the Telegram founder thinks it's "dangerous that the blocking of apps by Google and Apple affects free speech in Russia and around the world."

Russia will vote this weekend for a new parliament.

Putin's party, United Russia, is expected to win.

Allies of jailed Navalny, fierce opponent of Putin's party, planned to use the deleted app and chatbot to campaign against the incumbent president.