Russia, after protests, tells Google not to advertise 'illegal' events

Clay Curtis
August 13, 2019

Thousands of people took to Moscow streets on Saturday in a bid to call for open city elections.

The agency's authorities noted in their letter that failure to take response measures would be recognized as interference in the sovereign internal affairs of the country, hostile actions and hindering a democratic choice in Russian Federation.

The Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communication, or Roskomnadzor, communicated the demand after weeks of rallies over Moscow's city council election.

Some people who reportedly did not subscribe to channels that shared protest videos on YouTube received notifications about the new videos.

It said the channels use "advertising instruments" such as "push notifications" to "disrupt elections" and warned Google that Moscow will view inaction on its part as "meddling in Russia's sovereign elections". If the internet company based in California doesn't address the issue, Russian Federation would have the right to retaliate, the agency said in a statement.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Minister-Counsellor of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Tim Richardson, and presented him with an official protest against the U.S. encouraging the unauthorized rally on August 3 by publishing the rally's route.

Russian senator Andrei Klimov on Monday said senators will be also calling in envoys of countries which "attempted to meddle in Russia's domestic affairs", news agency Tass reported.

Over the past five years, Russia has introduced tougher laws requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services, and social networks to store Russian users' personal data on servers within the country.

It previously came at Google with threats of fines if it didn't remove some sites from search results.

Earlier that year, Google removed a YouTube advert by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny after authorities complained that the videos violated a law prohibiting campaigning ahead of a vote for regional governors.

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