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Apple, Google drop Russian opposition app ahead of election

Alexei Navalny | Image Credit: Evgeny Feldman / Novaya Gazeta

Russia's "Smart Voting" election app has been removed from the App Store and Google Play, in what an opposition spokesperson calls "political censorship."

Following Russia's demand that Apple and Google remove the tactical voting app, and then threats of fines, Apple and Google have dropped the "Smart Voting" app in the country.

The app, devised by imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was intended to boost candidates with the best chance of succeeding against incumbents. Apple and Google's removal came just hours before election voting was due to begin.

Russian watchdog group Roskomnadzor claims that the app promotes extremist activity by the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). Developer Ivan Zhdanov announced the removal on Twitter, and (in translation), described it as a "mockery of common sense."

"Formal reason for removing applications: recognition of FBK [as] an extremist organization," continues the developer's tweet. "The way the FBK was recognized as an extremist organization was not a court, but by mockery of common sense. Google, Apple, make a huge mistake."

"The decision to remove Navalny's app from Google Play... and App Store... is a huge disappointment," tweeted a spokeswoman. "This is an act of political censorship and it can't be justified."

Apple's message to the developer says that "Smart Voting" will no longer be on the App Store in the country "because it includes content that is illegal in Russia."

Russia has previously fined Apple $12 million over an antitrust issue. Apple is currently appealing