Russia fines GitHub for failing to delete Navalny’s ‘Smart Vote’ endorsements
Moscow’s Tagansky District Court has fined GitHub 1 million rubles ($13,630) for failing to delete the list of “Smart Vote” endorsements uploaded by Alexey Navalny’s team ahead of the Russian State Duma elections in September.
Russia’s censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, filed the administrative protocol against GitHub in early December over its failure to remove “prohibited content.”
Roskomnadzor began putting increasing pressure on team Navalny’s online presence — including the “Smart Vote” initiative — in the summer of 2021. The censorship agency blocked Navalny’s website and more than 40 other online resources linked to his Anti-Corruption Foundation, citing an earlier court ruling that outlawed Navalny’s nonprofits and political network as “extremist organizations.”
Under threat of sanctions and fines from the Russian regulator, Google and Apple pulled 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.
The protocol against GitHub for failing to delete “prohibited content” was drawn up under Russian Administrative Code Article 13.41, section 2, which stipulates fines for legal entities ranging from 800,000 rubles to 4 million rubles ($10,900–$54,560).
Roskomnadzor has repeatedly pursued administrative cases against various online service providers under this article, writing up the likes of Google, Telegram, Facebook, and Twitter. 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).