Source: Lorenz Duchamps
Apple and Google removed a tactical voting app from its online store on Friday that was linked to Kremlin critic and jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny as polls opened across Russia for three days of voting in a parliamentary election.
The move was prompted after Russian authorities put pressure on the U.S. tech giants to remove the app from their stores, saying a refusal to do so would be treated as meddling in its parliamentary election while also threatening the companies with fines.
The app is part of the “Smart Voting” project, which was created by a team of Navalny supporters. It was designed to organize a tactical voting campaign to channel opposition votes to United Russia—President Vladimir Putin’s ruling political party.
Ivan Zhdanov, an ally of Navalny, said on social media that the move by Apple and Google to remove the app is “shameful” and amounts to “political censorship.”
“Removing the Navalny app from stores is a shameful act of political censorship,” Zhdanov wrote on Twitter. “Russia’s authoritarian government and propaganda will be thrilled.”
Both companies have not immediately responded to a request for comment, although Zhdanov linked a statement on Friday that appears to be from Apple, saying the app was removed from its store because it is illegal in Russia.