Police officers detain anti-corruption campaigner and opposition figure Alexei Navalny in this file picture. Picture: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV
Police officers detain anti-corruption campaigner and opposition figure Alexei Navalny in this file picture. Picture: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

Moscow — Russia says it has officially warned US internet giant Google against meddling in next Sunday’s local elections by posting opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s videos calling for mass protests in the country.

Representatives of Russia’s electoral commission, the state internet watchdog and the prosecutor-general’s office alleged that Navalny uses Google’s services to disseminate illegal information and warned that Google may be prosecuted if it does not stop this.

A Google spokesperson declined to give a specific comment, saying in an e-mailed statement that the company "reviews all valid requests from government institutions".

Central election commission member Alexander Klyukin said the commission had sent an official letter to Larry Page, the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, regarding Navalny’s use of YouTube.

The fierce Kremlin critic has urged Russians to protest on September 9, when several Russian regions and Moscow elect regional and local officials.

Navalny is serving a 30-day sentence for violating public order laws during a protest earlier in 2018.

"Mr Navalny buys the company’s advertising tools to publish information on YouTube about the mass political event on September 9, on the day of elections," Klyukin said.

"We informed Google that such events on election day will lead to massive violation of the law" because political agitation is banned on election day, he said.

"Meddling by a foreign company in our election is not permitted." He called Google a "gigantic American company" and hinted that Washington uses it as an influence tool.

AFP

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