Telegram removes Putin opponent website (Navalny)
According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), Telegram initially announced its intention to resist pressure from the Russian power to block Vladimir Putin’s opponent’s application, but the automated ‘website’ (bot) where voters could obtain instructions to vote against Kremlin candidates in this weekend’s legislative elections was blocked today.
As early as Friday, Apple and Google immediately complied with Russian law and removed the opposition’s mobile phone application, accused by Alexeï Navalny of “giving in to the Kremlin’s blackmail”.
Almost no anti-Putin candidates were allowed to run in legislative elections. Navalny’s supporters have established a strategy called “smart voting” aimed at supporting the candidate best placed to jeopardize the ruling United Russia party, AFP adds.
The application allowed us to know which candidate to vote for in each legislative constituency, but also in dozens of local and regional elections held on the same days. In the past, this approach has had some success, especially in Moscow in 2019.
However, with the end of Telegram messenger, which is particularly popular in Russia, the app is no longer available for those who would like to vote against Kremlin candidates.
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The app disappeared after Telegram announced it would “limit the functioning of ‘bots’ associated with the election campaign”.
The founder of Telegram, Russian Pavel Durov, said he was happy to follow the decision of Apple and Google, “which set the rules of the game”.
Despite this, Pavel Durov estimated that “the fact that Apple and Google agree to block applications sets a dangerous precedent that will affect freedom of expression in Russia and around the world”.
After the app was eliminated from the Telegram, Navalny’s supporters posted ‘links’ to Twitter that forward to Google Docs recommending candidates. This is the only tool left to them, they pointed out.