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24 Sep, 2021 11:09

‘Liars and hypocrites’: Imprisoned Russian opposition figure Navalny accuses Google & Apple of being ‘accomplices’ of Kremlin

‘Liars and hypocrites’: Imprisoned Russian opposition figure Navalny accuses Google & Apple of being ‘accomplices’ of Kremlin

The jailed Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny has taken to Twitter to criticize US tech giants Google and Apple of acting as "accomplices" of the Kremlin, which he says "forged the results" of the country's recent elections.

In his post, the imprisoned protest leader noted his "surprise" that "almighty Big Tech" complied with Moscow's request to delete his 'Smart Voting' app before Russia held parliamentary elections September 17–19.

"The giants Apple and Google have complied with the Kremlin's demands and removed our app from their stores. My beloved YouTube has deleted our video, and the Telegram messenger has blocked our bot," he lamented.

"This means that [big tech] recognizes the right of an authoritarian thief to subjugate the Internet, turning it into an instrument for seizure of power," he continued.

Apple and Google removed the Navalny app from their application stores before Russians cast ballots in national elections to the country's parliament last weekend. According to the New York Times, Google deleted it after Moscow threatened to arrest local staff on extremism charges, naming specific individuals who would face prosecution.

Google later removed two Google docs and two YouTube videos listing the candidates Navalny's team had chosen to back in each constituency as part of its 'Smart Voting' scheme.

The jailed opposition figure also took aim at Pavel Durov, the Russian owner of the Telegram messenger app. The Dubai-based company blocked a bot run by Navalny's team.

"One of the modern challenges is that false prophets now come to us not in sheep's clothing, but in hoodies and stretched jeans," Navalny wrote. "Standing in front of the huge screens, they tell us about 'making the world a better place,' but on the inside, they are liars and hypocrites."

Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told the TASS news agency that foreign tech giants have no more chances to ignore the country's legal requirements.

"Everyone must comply with the Russian law," she said. "Other states have the same requirement for foreign companies and citizens operating on their territory."

According to Moscow, Navalny’s Smart Vote app is illegal because of its links to his FBK anti-corruption organization, which was designated as extremist earlier this year. It was also labeled a foreign agent due to allegedly receiving funding from abroad.

Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor has also slammed the application as a tool of “foreign meddling in the electoral campaign,” noting that providers based abroad are allowing Russians to circumvent access restrictions. Earlier this month, news daily Kommersant reported that the Russian authorities believe the Pentagon is supporting the Smart Vote project.

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