Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s team says Google and Apple removed their tactical voting app from their stores.
The tech firms had been accused of meddling in their internal affairs by the Russian government, which had demanded the app be removed from stores.
Navalny is an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin who is known for exposing governmental corruption. He founded the Foundation for Fighting Corruption (FBK), which the government labeled an “extremist” organization. He is currently jailed in a maximum-security prison colony 100 kilometers east of Moscow.
He told The New York Times the prison was like “a Chinese labor camp, where everybody marches in a line and where video cameras are hung everywhere.”
“There is constant control and a culture of snitching,” he said.
“He was arrested in January upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin – an accusation rejected by Russian officials,” reports Fox News. “In February, Navalny was ordered to serve 2½ years in prison for violating the terms of a suspended sentence from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that he dismissed as politically motivated.”
In August, new fraud charges were brought against the 45-year-old that could add an additional three years to his sentence. He would not be released until 2024 if convicted.
Supporters of Navalny planned to use the app “to organize a tactical voting campaign to deal a blow to United Russia,” per Reuters.
The app would show voters in Russia’s 225 districts which candidate is mostly likely to beat the political party based on their location. According to Navalny’s team, Apple sent them a statement saying the app was removed because it “violates the legislation of the Russian Federation by enabling interference in elections.”
“It shows that the authorities are really afraid of smart voting,” said Vladimir Ashurkov, FBK executive director, about the app’s removal, to Newsweek. “They spare no resources in trying to suppress our efforts at campaigning for smart voting and for the candidates that have been selected and published yesterday.”
“I am surprised by Google and Apple’s decision because all these apps do is select the candidates we recommend to vote,” he added. “There is nothing controversial about it.”