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Russia on Thursday asserted that Google and Apple’s refusal to remove jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s app ahead of elections could be seen as interference in the country’s domestic affairs.
Africa Daily News, New York understands that the country is holding her parliamentary elections later this month, with nearly all vocal Kremlin critics including Navalny’s allies barred from running.
Last month Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor demanded that Google and Apple remove Navalny’s app from their stores.
On Thursday, Roskomnadzor heightened pressure on the Western tech giants alleging that they could be held criminally liable if they continue to refuse to comply with Russian law.
‘Criminal liability is foreseen for organising as well as taking part in the work of extremist organisations banned in Russia,’ the media watchdog said in a statement which was sighted by Africa Daily News, New York.
Failure to block the app ‘can be considered interference’ in Russian elections and will lead to hefty fines, the watchdog added.
Roskomnadzor did not immediately provide a comment when contacted by reporters.
Africa Daily News, New York earlier this year, opposition leader Navalny saw his organisations declared ‘extremist’ and banned in the country, while all of his top aides have fled.
The media regulator then barred dozens of websites linked to Navalny including his main website navalny.com.
In a message from prison, Navalny has urged supporters to download an app that aims to help Russians to vote out candidates from the ruling United Russia party in the upcoming polls.
The ‘Smart Voting’ tactic has seen the increasingly unpopular United Russia party lose a number of seats in recent local elections.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK