Apple removes Navalny app from App Store hours before Russia election

"We are writing to notify you that your application will be removed from the Russia App Store because it includes content that is illegal in Russia..."

What you need to know

  • Apple appears to have removed a tactical voting app from Russia's opposition leader Alexei Navalny from its App Store.
  • The company reportedly told the developer it was because it contained content illegal in the country.
  • Apple has been under pressure from the government over the app and was threatened with fines ahead of this week's election.

Apple has reportedly removed a tactical voting app from Russia's opposition leader Alexei Navalny following threats of a fine from the government's media watchdog.

Just hours before Russia's election begins this weekend, Apple told the app's developer the app would be removed following a request from Russia's Roskomnadzor because "it includes content that is illegal in Russia", which is a breach of Apple's App Store guidelines. CEO for Alexei Navalny's team Ivan Zhdanov stated:

Formal grounds for removing applications: recognition of FBK as an extremist organization.

The way the FBK was recognized as an extremist organization was not a trial, but a mockery of common sense. @google @Apple are making a huge mistake.

Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh described the move as a "huge disappointment" and an act of political censorship that couldn't be justified.

Russia's three-day election begins this weekend. Alexei Navalny, currently imprisoned, and his team had created the offending app to help people vote tactically against Russia's Ruling party, United Russia. Russia has previously demanded on several occasions that Apple remove the app from the App Store, and threatened the company with fines as recently as Thursday.

Apple was not immediately available for comment on the story.