Russia: opposition voting instructions removed

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The Russians went to the polls yesterday for the final day of the legislative elections, in which the movement of the opponent Alexeï Navalny was excluded and his voting instructions deleted by digital giants under pressure from the authorities. The election is expected to be won by the ruling United Russia party – despite its unpopularity – after months of repression that severely weakened detractors of President Vladimir Putin.

Anti-corruption activist and bête noire of the Kremlin, Alexeï Navalny, 45 years, was jailed in January for a case of fraud which he considers political. Its organizations were banned for “extremism” before the elections and many of its executives had to flee the country.

Google and Apple give in

Ahead of the election, the Russian authorities also exerted unprecedented pressure against digital companies distributing opposition content . They bent Google and Apple, who agreed to remove some of this content for fear of arrests of their employees in Russia.

The vote aims to renew the 450 terms of deputies of the Duma, the lower house of Parliament currently dominated by United Russia. Local and regional elections are also taking place.

Some 51 millions of Russians were thus called to the polls since Friday until yesterday 16 local hours, the first estimates being expected at the end of the evening. According to a list by the specialized NGO Golos, more than 3. 500 possible irregularities have been reported since the start of the vote, including ballot stuffing and pressure to go to vote.

Almost no anti-Putin candidate having been authorized to run for the legislative elections, Mr. Navalny’s supporters had set up a so-called “strategy of” intelligent vote “intended to support the candidate – often Communist – best placed to hinder that of power.

But Google and Apple agreed on Friday to remove the application from their store mobile of the “intelligent vote” of Alexey Navalny. The Telegram messaging system, very popular in Russia, has also removed the voting instructions from its platform.

Most of the opposition having been banned from the ballot, United Russia should therefore impose itself, for lack of real competition and despite a popularity rating of less than 20%, according to the state polling center VTsIOM.

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