https://thehill.com/policy/international/russia/571010-russia-blocks-voting-website-linked-to-navalny-ahead-of-elections

Russia blocked a voting website linked to opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections.

The authorities blocked the website that advocated for individuals to vote for opposition candidates who have a chance to beat members of the United Russia party in the Sept. 19 elections, the Associated Press reported.

The SmartVoting website was created by Navalny’s associates in 2018 and was shut down Monday “because it is being used to continue the activities and holding events of an extremist organization,” according to Russia’s communications overseer Roskomnadzor.

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Navalny’s organization, Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption, was labeled an extremist group in June, and candidates who were associated with the group were forbidden from running for office.

The move to block the website comes after Russia threatened to fine Google and Apple if they did not take the SmartVoting app off their stores. 

“It would be legitimate to interpret further connivance of U.S. IT-giants to the publication of the banned materials as an interference in domestic affairs of the Russian state,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at the time.

Russian opposition candidates have been trying to rally support while Russia has been cracking down on members of the media and activists who go against the government. 

The candidates held a rally with members of the media last week promising to alleviate barriers that have been placed on the media by the government if they win.

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