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An election campaign billboard in Russia showing government ministers
The Russian government has cracked down on the opposition ahead of State Duma elections Image: Semyon Antonov/TASS/dpa/picture alliance

Russia summons US envoy, claims election meddling

September 10, 2021

Moscow says US-based tech companies are violating Russian laws ahead of upcoming elections. The Russian government has previously threatened Apple and Google over a mobile app developed by the opposition.


Russia said it has summoned US Ambassador John Sullivan on Friday over allegations that US-based tech companies are interfering in the country's internal affairs. The move comes just seven days before parliamentary elections in Russia are set to start.

What did the Russian government say?

The Foreign Ministry claimed it has "undeniable proof" that US tech companies have violated Russian laws in connection to the scheduled vote. However, the ministry did not name any firms or specific laws broken by the tech companies.  

Sullivan reportedly met with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Friday to discuss the allegations. The spokesman for the US Embassy in Russia, Jason Rebholz, told Russian media that the two diplomats discussed a "range of bilateral issues" during the meeting, but did not mention political interference. 

In response, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the meet was called for "one reason — interference in Russian elections."

"We hope this is how US politicians will report it to Washington," she said on social media messaging service Telegram.

The Russian legislative elections will take place from September 17 to September 19, with results shaping the composition of the lower house of parliament for the next five years.  

Washington has previously accused Russia of interfering in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.   

Navalny supporters and the Russian election

Big tech companies pressured to remove Navalny-linked app

Earlier this month, the Russian government urged Google and Apple to remove an app from their stores which had been developed by allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. The Russian Roskomnadzor watchdog said failing to block the app could constitute election interference and the tech companies could be hit with criminal fines.   

Navalny has called on supporters to use the "Smart Voting" app to deliver an electoral blow to the ruling United Russia party, which is backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The Russian government has cracked down on the opposition ahead of the elections, blocking dozens of websites linked to Navalny.  

The Kremlin has also regulated big tech companies by enacting a law which orders them to store data on Russian citizens on Russian territory. In August, Russia fined Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp for not storing the data on Russian servers.  

wd/dj (Reuters, AFP)