How Google and Apple have changed their apps as polling begins in Russia

Apple,Google
Facing Kremlin pressure, Apple and Google removed an opposition-created smartphone app that tells voters which candidates are likely to defeat those backed by Russian authorities, as polls opened for three days of balloting in Russia’s parliamentary election.
Russian authorities are seeking to suppress the use of Smart Voting, a strategy designed by imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
The election is widely seen as an important part of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to cement his grip on power ahead of the 2024 presidential polls, in which control of parliament will be key.
Apple and Google have come under pressure in recent weeks, with Russian officials telling them to remove the Smart Voting app from their online stores. Failure to do so will be interpreted as interference in the election and make them subject to fines, the officials said.
Last week, Russia’s foreign ministry summoned US Ambassador John Sullivan over the issue. On Thursday, representatives of Apple and Google were invited to a meeting in the upper house of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council. The Council’s commission on protecting state sovereignty said in a statement afterward that Apple agreed to cooperate with Russian authorities.
Apple and Google did not comment.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the presidential administration “definitely, of course” welcomes the companies’ decision to remove the app, because it complies with Russian laws. Peskov said that the app was “outside the law” in Russia.
As voting began Friday, long lines and large crowds formed at some polling stations in Moscow and other cities. Russian media attributed them to state institutions and companies forcing their employees to vote.

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