Navalny allies accuse Telegram and other platforms of censorship
News Desk || shiningbd
Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s allies are accusing YouTube and Telegram of censorship after the video platform and messaging app restricted access to their anti-government voting recommendations for Russia’s parliamentary election.
The latest accusations came on Saturday, one day after Navalny’s allies had already accused Alphabet’s Google and Apple of buckling under Kremlin pressure after the companies removed an app from their stores that the activists had hoped to use against the ruling party in the election.
Voting began on Friday and ran until late on Sunday.
Telegram, the social media platform used by protesters from Iran to Belarus, blocked a “smart voting” channel aimed at defeating ruling party nominees, which carried recommendations for candidates in Russia’s parliamentary elections.
The app gives detailed recommendations on who to vote for in an effort to challenge the party that backs President Vladimir Putin. It is one of the few levers Navalny’s allies have left after a sweeping crackdown this year.
Telegram’s founder Pavel Durov, who has carved out a libertarian image and resisted past censorship, said the platform would block election campaign services, including one used by Navalny’s allies to give voter recommendations.
He said the decision had been taken because of a Russian ban on campaigning once polls are open, which he considered legitimate and is similar to bans in many other countries.
Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh condemned the move.
“It’s a real disgrace when the censorship is imposed by private companies that allegedly defend the ideas of freedom,” she wrote on Twitter.
Ivan Zhdanov, a political ally of Navalny, said he did not believe Telegram’s justification and that the move looked to have been agreed somehow with Russia’s authorities.
Late on Saturday, Navalny’s camp said YouTube had also taken down one of their videos that contained the names of 225 candidates they endorsed.Navalny’s team uses Google’s YouTube widely to air anti-corruption videos and to stream coverage and commentary of anti-Kremlin protests they have staged.Aljazeera.