Russia’s communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, on Thursday issued warnings to Apple and Google that the tech giants will be subject to fines if they do not remove an app associated with jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny from their digital marketplaces.
Roskomnadzor released the statement via the Russian Interfax News Agency, saying the app “is used to continue the activities and conduct of . . . the Anti-Corruption Fund,” which has been recognized as an extremist group and banned by the Moscow City Court in June. The app enables users to download Navalny’s blog posts to their phones and urges Russian voters to vote against Vladimir Putin’s ruling party in the next parliamentary elections.
Failure by the companies to take action will be considered a violation of Russian law and could also be considered interference by the US-based companies in the upcoming elections. Violations of the law provide for initial fines of up to ₽4 million (approx. US $55,000). As of Saturday, neither Google nor Apple deleted the app from their respective online stores.
The warning to the tech companies comes as part of a larger crackdown on western social media companies. Russia fined Google ₽3 million (approx. US $41,000) at the end of July for violations of new data protection rules, and also fined Facebook, Twitter and Telegram Messenger for illegal content.