Russia summons US ambassador over ‘election interference’

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Foreign ministry says John Sullivan presented with ‘undeniable proof’ of US-based tech giants violating Russian laws ahead of elections this month.

Russia’s foreign ministry says it has summoned the United States ambassador to the country over alleged election interference ahead of parliamentary polls later this month.

The Russian government has “undeniable proof” that tech giants, based in the US, violated Russian laws ahead of the coming election to the lower house State Duma, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday. It did not specify what companies and violations it referred to.

The ministry said ambassador John Sullivan held a meeting with Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister.

“In this regard it was stated that interference in the internal affairs of our country was absolutely unacceptable,” the statement said.

Russia has recently ramped up control of its segment of the internet and has been taking legal action against foreign tech companies for not deleting content banned by authorities.

There was no immediate comment by the US embassy in Russia and the State Department.

Earlier in September, Russia said it may treat as election meddling refusals by Apple and Google to remove Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny’s app from their online stores.

Navalny and his allies promote a tactical voting plan, which requires followers to support candidates who are judged to have the best chance of defeating the ruling United Russia party in local election campaigns.

Amid rising tensions, Russia formally designated the US an “unfriendly” state, barring its embassy from employing Russian nationals.

Russia summons US Ambassador over alleged interference in election

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Russia summoned US Ambassador John Sullivan on Friday over alleged interference by the United States in an election, Russian agencies TASS and RIA reported, quoting a diplomatic source.

Russian news agencies reported earlier that Sullivan had been summoned over an issue with accreditations for Russian journalists working in the United States.

The agencies did not specify which election was discussed. Russia will hold a parliamentary election next week.

Russia Complains of ‘Election Interference’ to US Ambassador

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MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan, to complain about alleged interference by American “digital giants” in Russia’s upcoming parliamentary election.

A ministry statement said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov claimed Russia “possesses irrefutable evidence of the violation of Russian legislation by American ‘digital giants’ in the context of the preparation and conduct of elections to the State Duma.”

The statement did not give details of the complaint, but Russian authorities have pressured Google and Apple to remove apps of the Smart Voting initiative designed by the team of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The program aims to advise voters which candidates are in the best position to defeat candidates from United Russia, the party that dominates parliament, in the Sept. 19 election.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Jalina Porter, said Sullivan met with the deputy foreign minister to discuss a range of issues “in support of President Biden’s desire for a stable and predictable relationship with Russia.” She declined to comment on the Russian claims of election interference by the U.S. tech companies.

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Russian authorities this year declared Navalny’s organizations to be extremist, and hardly any Kremlin critics have been allowed on the ballot for the parliament election. Although the other sizable parties on the ballot routinely support President Vladimir Putin — as does United Russia — Smart Voting’s intent is to undermine United Russia’s dominance of the political landscape, thereby casting a shadow on Putin.

Navalny devised the idea in 2018 and it has proved to be effective in previous regional elections. In 2019, it helped opposition candidates win 20 of 45 seats on the Moscow city council.

Authorities have blocked most access to Smart Voting’s website, leaving it available largely through apps, and it is unclear how widely it will be used in the parliamentary election.