The men behind a patent dispute with Navalny’s ‘Smart Vote’ initiative have apparent ties to Russia’s police
The wool company that won a Russian patent to Alexey Navalny’s “Smart Vote” brand and then an injunction that ostensibly requires Google and Yandex to purge the words “umnoe golosovanie” (Smart Vote) from all search results belongs to a manufacturer based in Dagestan that may have ties to local law enforcement, according to a new report from BBC Russia. The connection perhaps explains how the company in question managed to get its patent within a month (though the process typically takes a year) and then win a court order against two Internet giants within a couple of days.
The “Woolintertrade” company was founded four years ago in Makhachkala under the name “Regul” by a retired lieutenant colonel in Dagestan’s tax police named Ashur Ashurov. The business changed names in 2019 when a Dagestani entrepreneur named Abdula Umarov bought it and added it to his collection of wool-trading firms.
Umarov may have police connections of his own, the BBC discovered. He previously owned a slaughterhouse outside Stavropol called “Dinior” that included a registered phone number for Marat Mazdogov, who’s been identified in public records as a senior detective and a representative of the Russian Interior Ministry’s North Caucasian District.
Mazdogov confirmed to the BBC that he currently works for the Interior Ministry, but he denied any knowledge of Dinior or Abdula Umarov’s wool business, speculating that his phone number ended up in the company’s registration paperwork by accident.
Umarov responded combatively when asked about his patent for the “Smart Vote” brand and his lawsuit against Google and Yandex. “I did it on a whim,” Umarov explained, before refusing to say if he is causing problems for the Navalny movement as a favor to the Putin regime.