A media outlet has warned that Western IT Titans could face criminal charges if they do not comply with Russian law. Parliamentary elections are set to take place later this month, with all strong Kremlin critics, including Alexei Navalny’s friends, barred from standing. Russia’s official communications official has warned that Google and Apple do not want to shut down the Kremlin’s opposition to Alexey Navalny’s app before the election could be interpreted as involvement in internal affairs.
On Thursday, Roskomnadzor put pressure on Western technology giants saying they could be held accountable if they continue to refuse to comply with Russian law. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for later this month, with all Kremlin critics including Navalny’s friends barred from running. Last month, the state-run Roskomnadzor demanded that Google and Apple remove the Navalny app from their stores. “Criminal convictions have already been identified for planning, as well as participation in the work of law enforcement agencies in Russia,” the official said in a statement.
Failure to block the application “could be a hindrance” in Russia’s elections and would lead to huge fines, the statement warned. Roskomnadzor said Google and Apple could face an initial fine of up to four million rubles ($ 55,000) for not having access to the application, according to the Interfax news agency. “Failure to take action is a violation of Russian law… and may also be viewed as interference by US institutions in Russian elections,” he said. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said US technology giants were facing demands from Russian authorities to delete “illegal content” that had become “systematic”.
Alexey Navalny’s group has been banned by a Russian court, calling them “powerful”. as extremist has indeed become unacceptable, ”he told reporters.