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Telegram restricts access to Navalni’s “Smart Vote” in Russian elections

Moscow, Sep 18 (EFE) .- The Russian encrypted messaging service Telegram today restricted access to the “Smart Vote” platform created by opposition leader Alexei Navalni’s team to scratch votes for the ruling United Russia party in the legislative elections that began on Friday and conclude on Sunday.

“This ‘bot’ cannot be shown because it violates electoral law,” reads a message that appears when trying to open the address @smartvotebot.

The founder of Telegram, Pavel Dúrov, explained in his account of the messaging network in Russian that he has taken this step “because the electoral campaign in Russia has come to an end and the electoral process itself has begun” on Friday.

Dúrov uses to “limit the operation of bots associated with electoral campaigns” that “begin the so-called days of silence” and urges Telegram users to respect them.

“I hope that all those who want to receive additional information about the candidates have been able to do so before the start of the elections,” writes the founder of the Russian social network.

“Smart Vote”, which has been running since 2019, recommends voting for the candidates most likely to defeat the United Russia representative, be it liberal, communist or nationalist, in each of the districts.

The user, who did not need to identify himself, only had to look up his district number to obtain the corresponding recommendation on who to vote for.

At the beginning of September, the Russian authorities already blocked the website of this platform, and yesterday the US technology giants Google and Apple removed the “Navalni” application from their stores, which led the user directly to “Smart Vote”.

The jailed Russian opposition’s team bypassed official censorship through Telegram and Google documents.

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