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Russia: Apple and Google delete Navalny app before election

At the beginning of the parliamentary elections in Russia, the American IT companies Google and Apple have the software to the protest voting procedure “Smart Voting” of the Kremlin critic Alexej Navalny from their respective app stores. This was announced by the team of the still-imprisoned dissident on Friday. Navalny had developed the method to break the monopoly of the Putin party “United Russia”. The vote lasts three days.

The “smart voting” procedure, which is controversial even among opposition members, provides that voters should vote for any candidate – except that of the Kremlin party, United Russia. Nawalny’s supporters are now campaigning for the electorate to be reached via Telegram and Youtube.

The Navalny confidante Ivan Zhdanov criticized Apple and Google for removing the app from the App Store and Play Store in Russia. The corporations are violating basic human rights, he wrote on the short message service Twitter. The associated homepage has been blocked in Russia for days. The authorities have even banned the Internet search engines Google and Yandex from displaying the Russian term for “Smart Voting” in search results.

Nawalny’s team had already expected that Apple and Google would give in. When making such decisions, the corporations always refer to having to adhere to local laws. Apple does the same in China, for example, where the servers with the data of local iCloud users are stored at a company with government participation (and possibly duplicate keys).

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Up to and including Sunday, around 110 million people in the Russian Federation are called to vote on the composition of the new State Duma. In many regions, regional and city parliaments are elected at the same time. Putin’s United Russia party wants to defend its absolute majority in the State Duma. For the first time it is possible to vote electronically in some regions of Russia.


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