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World Navalny app removed from online stores as Russian polls open

12:45  17 september  2021
12:45  17 september  2021 Source:   msn.com

EXPLAINER: How Navalny election tool challenges the Kremlin

  EXPLAINER: How Navalny election tool challenges the Kremlin MOSCOW (AP) — Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his embattled allies are not running in the Sept. 19 parliamentary election, but they still hope to challenge the ruling United Russia party with their strategy known as Smart Voting. Hardly any Kremlin critics are allowed to run in the election to the parliament, or State Duma. Control of that body is seen as a key part of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to cement his hold on power heading into the next presidential balloting, scheduled for 2024. Putin already has been running Russia since 2000.

The Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny 's Smart Voting app is seen on a phone, in Moscow, Russia September 16, 2021. MOSCOW, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Alphabet's Google (GOOGL.O) and Apple (AAPL.O) have removed jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny 's tactical voting app from their stores , his team said on Friday, after Russia accused the U.S. tech firms of meddling in its internal affairs. Russia goes to the polls on Friday to elect a new parliament in a three-day vote that the ruling United Russia party is expected to win despite a ratings slump after the biggest crackdown on the

A Smart Voting app devised by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been removed from Apple and Google stores on the day Russians start voting in parliamentary elections. Russian authorities had threatened to fine the two companies if they refused to drop the app , which told users who could unseat ruling party candidates. Parliamentary and local elections began on Friday and will last three days. President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party is expected to win. Although a total of 14 parties are taking part in the vote, many candidates seen as anti-Putin are barred from running

MOSCOW (AP) — An app created by allies of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny disappeared from Apple and Google stores on Friday as polls opened across Russia for three days of voting in a parliamentary election.

Russian Army soldiers cast their ballots during the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament and local parliaments elections at a polling station outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Russia has begun three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country's political complexion. There's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky) © Provided by Associated Press Russian Army soldiers cast their ballots during the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament and local parliaments elections at a polling station outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Russia has begun three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country's political complexion. There's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky) A woman examines her ballot on during the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament and local parliaments elections at a polling station outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Russia has begun three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country's political complexion. There's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky) © Provided by Associated Press A woman examines her ballot on during the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament and local parliaments elections at a polling station outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Russia has begun three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country's political complexion. There's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

It comes as Russian authorities seek to suppress the use of Smart Voting, a project designed by Navalny to promote candidates that are most likely to defeat those backed by the Kremlin. This weekend's election is widely seen as an important part of President Vladimir Putin's efforts to cement his grip on power ahead of the 2014 presidential election, for which control of the parliament is key.

How Putin is embracing authoritarianism as state elections loom

  How Putin is embracing authoritarianism as state elections loom If you were to ask the Kremlin, Alexei Navalny is currently an involuntary resident of Corrective Colony No. 2 in Vladimir Oblast because he violated the terms of his parole stemming from a 2014 conviction for fraud and money laundering. © Provided by Washington Examiner Laughably missing from this explanation is the fact that when Navalny failed to attend court-ordered bi-monthly meetings with Russian officials from Sept. to Dec. 2021, the staunch Putin critic and anti-corruption activist was hospitalized in Berlin. He was recovering from a Kremlin assassination attempt that involved the deadly nerve agent Novichok.

Alexei Navalny ’s supporters have termed the removal of the app as an act of political censorship. Tagging both Google and Apple, Zhdanov tweeted: “ Removing the Navalny app from stores is a shameful act of political censorship. Russia 's authoritarian government and propaganda will be thrilled.” In a later tweet, the Navalny ally indicated that his team was looking at suing Google and Apple for censoring their app .

Russian communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has ordered Alphabet Inc's (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google and Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) remove Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny 's app from their stores , Reuters reports based on Interfax news. The order followed a Russian court ruling rendering Navalny 's anti-corruption foundation an extremist organization and banned it. Navalny 's allies have published news and blogs through the app after Roskomnadzor blocked their websites.

A man walks to casts his ballot at a polling station during the Parliamentary elections in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Russia has begun three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country's political complexion. There's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) © Provided by Associated Press A man walks to casts his ballot at a polling station during the Parliamentary elections in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Russia has begun three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country's political complexion. There's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Apple and Google have come under pressure in recent weeks, with Russian officials urging them to remove the app, which features Smart Voting, saying failure to do so will be interpreted as interference in the election and threatening them with fines.

Last week, Russia's Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. ambassador John Sullivan over the situation.

Russia goes to the polls amid crackdown on political dissent

  Russia goes to the polls amid crackdown on political dissent Millions of Russians are expected to head to the polls over a three-day period starting Friday in elections taking place against the backdrop of an unprecedented assault on democracy over the past year. © Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images A woman votes in Moscow on September 17, 2021. Voters will choose members of the State Duma -- the lower house of the Russian Parliament -- as well as several regional and municipal heads. The ruling United Russia party, which backs President Vladimir Putin, is widely expected to win a majority.

Navalny ’s app promotes his Smart Voting strategy — a project designed to support candidates who are most likely to defeat those from the Kremlin’s main United Russia party. Russian opposition supporters, independent media and human rights activists have face increased government pressure in the run-up to the Sept. In June, a Russian court outlawed Navalny ’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and a network of his regional offices as extremist organizations, a ruling that barred people associated with the groups from seeking public office and exposed them to lengthy prison terms.

FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is pictured in 2020 in Moscow. MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia may treat Apple or Google's refusal to remove Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny 's app from their stores as meddling in its parliamentary election this month, Interfax news agency cited the communications regulator as saying on Thursday. Allies of Navalny , President Vladimir Putin's fiercest domestic opponent, plan to use the app to organise a tactical voting campaign to deal a blow to the pro-Kremlin United Russia ruling party that dominates the political landscape.

On Thursday, representatives of Apple and Google were invited to a meeting in the upper house of Russia's parliament, the Federation Council. The commission said in a statement after the meeting that Apple agreed to cooperate with the Russian authorities.

Apple and Google have not responded to a request for comment.

In recent months, authorities have unleashed a sweeping crackdown against Navalny’s allies and supporters in an effort to suppress Smart Voting.

After recovering from poisoning with a nerve agent last year, Navalny was given a 2½-year prison sentence for violating parole over a previous conviction. He says both the poisoning and the conviction were politically motived — charges the Kremlin denies.

His top allies were slapped with criminal charges, and his Foundation for Fighting Corruption, as well as a network of regional offices, have been outlawed as extremist organizations. That has exposed hundreds of people associated with the groups to prosecution. Many of his top associates have left the country. About 50 websites that his team ran have been blocked, and dozens of regional offices have been closed.

Russian Opposition Blast Apple, Google for Pulling App After 'Kremlin's Blackmail'

  Russian Opposition Blast Apple, Google for Pulling App After 'Kremlin's Blackmail' The Smart Voting app, designed by Alexei Navalny, instructs voters which candidates are likely to prevail against those supported by Russian authorities.Leonid Volkov, the top strategist for jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, wrote on Facebook that the two companies "bent to the Kremlin's blackmail" in their decision to remove the Smart Voting service. Volkov also said that those who already downloaded the app shouldn't be affected by its removal, and it should still be working properly, the AP reported.

The representatives of Apple Inc. explained to a Russian committee that it could not remove the application by Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny from the App Store , as requested by Moscow, due to some legal subtleties, a senior Russian lawmaker, Andrey Klimov, said on Thursday. On September 2, Russia 's state communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, demanded that the US corporations Apple Inc. and Google LLC remove the " Navalny " app from their online store . The app , which is associated with the activist's Anti-Corruption Foundation (banned in Russia

Russia 's media authority Roskomnadzor has ordered Apple and Alphabet, Google's parent company, to take the app of the biggest opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin off of their platforms, according to a report. Roskomnadzor said the app dedicated to publishing stories about Alexei Putin and the Russian government's treatment of Navalny continues to draw criticism from abroad. During a Friday meeting with Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Navalny 's imprisonment unacceptable and called for his release. The team of US President Joe Biden has warned Russia of

A woman prepares to casts her ballot at a polling station during the Parliamentary elections in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Russia has begun three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country's political complexion. There's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) © Provided by Associated Press A woman prepares to casts her ballot at a polling station during the Parliamentary elections in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Russia has begun three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country's political complexion. There's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The authorities have moved to block the Smart Voting website as well, but some internet users can still access it.

Navalny's close ally Ivan Zhdanov on Friday tweeted a screenshot of what appears to be an email from Apple, explaining why the app should be removed from the store. The screenshot cites the extremism designation for the Foundation for Fighting Corruption and allegations of election interference. “Google, Apple are making a big mistake,” Zhdanov wrote.

Russian soldiers stand in line to vote at a polling station during the Parliamentary elections in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Russia has begun three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country's political complexion. There's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. (AP Photo) © Provided by Associated Press Russian soldiers stand in line to vote at a polling station during the Parliamentary elections in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Russia has begun three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country's political complexion. There's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. (AP Photo)

Leonid Volkov, Navalny's top strategist, wrote on Facebook that the companies “bent to the Kremlin's blackmail.”

Parliamentary election unlikely to change Russia's politics

  Parliamentary election unlikely to change Russia's politics MOSCOW (AP) — After a few weeks of desultory campaigning but months of relentless official moves to shut down significant opposition, Russia is holding three days of voting this weekend in a parliamentary election that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. There’s no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance of the State Duma, the elected lower house of parliament. The main questions to be answered are whether the party will retain its current two-thirds majority that allows it to amend the constitution; whether anemic turnout will dull the party’s prestige; and whether imprisoned oppositi

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