After Google and Apple removed earlier on Friday, on the first day of a parliamentary election in Russia, the Navalny app from its stores, opposition activists in Russia accused them of bowing to Kremlin pressure, Reuters reports.
The app, as Reuters independently verified, is not available for Russian users on Apple’s AppStore and Google Play with the previously downloaded versions of the app also being disabled.
The US tech giants’ representatives met with members of the Russia upper house of parliament who warned them they’ll face serious consequences including fines and criminal prosecution unless they comply with Kremlin’ requests.
After the meeting, they removed the anti-government tactical voting app devised by Alexei Navalny’s allies to give people detailed recommendations on who to vote for to thwart the chances of the ruling United Russia party.
United Russia’s senior senator Andrei Klimov stressed that he is pleased by Google and Apple’s actions, calling them steps in the right direction
Navalny’s allies Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov accused Google and Apple of caving in to Kremlin’s campaign of blackmail, calling their move a mistake and shameful act of political censorship.
Yet, this is not a knockout blow for the tactical voting campaign of Navalny camp that published detailed instructions of how they want people to vote online two days ago while some activists are still able to download and use the app using virtual private networks to skirt restrictions.