Russia’s censorship agency threatens GitHub with fines over failure to delete ‘Smart Vote’ endorsements
Russia’s censorship agency (Roskomnadzor) has filed an administrative protocol against GitHub for failing to delete the list of “Smart Vote” endorsements published by Alexey Navalny’s team ahead of the State Duma elections in September.
According to Interfax, the protocol was drawn up under Administrative Code Article 13.41, section 2, which stipulates fines for legal entities ranging from 800,000 rubles to 4 million rubles ($10,850–$54,260). A justice of the peace in Moscow will consider the claim on December 23.
In July 2021, Roskomnadzor blocked Alexey Navalny’s website and more than 40 other online resources linked to his nonprofit, the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). As justification, the censorship agency cited an earlier court ruling that outlawed Navalny’s anti-corruption nonprofits and political movement as “extremist organizations.”
Ahead of the State Duma elections in Russia in September, Roskomnadzor began putting increasing pressure on “Smart Vote,” a strategic voting initiative run by Navalny’s team. Roskomnadzor threatened Google and Apple with sanctions and fines, forcing the tech giants to pull Navalny’s mobile application, which contained a “Smart Vote” function, from their app stores. Web pages containing “Smart Vote” endorsements were also blocked on YouTube and Google Docs.
Roskomnadzor has repeatedly pursued administrative cases against various online service providers — including Google, Telegram, Facebook, and Twitter — for failing to remove “banned content.” According to Interfax, the total amount of fines handed down to all foreign companies subject to sanctions since the beginning of 2021 exceeds 200 million rubles ($2.7 million).