Telegram blocked the Smart Voting bot during the elections to the State Duma due to the fact that otherwise the messenger itself would be the threat of blocking, explained the founder of Telegram Pavel Durov. According to him, the messenger “does not exist in isolation,” but depends on other companies, including Apple and Google: it must follow the rules set by them in order to remain available to users on iOS and Android.
According to Mr. Durov, Telegram “is the first to resist the authorities of different countries and, if necessary, enters into a battle with them,” but last weekend was not the right moment for “the start of the war”. First, he explained, without the support of Apple and Google, any fight with the local regulator “will be lost before it even starts”: if Telegram is removed from stores, users will not be able to receive updates and bypass bans.
As a second reason, Pavel Durov cited the provision of Russian legislation, according to which campaigning is prohibited on voting days. In his opinion, this demand of the Russian authorities “was not clearly unconstitutional.”
“Allowing Telegram to be blocked for all Russians to give a political party two extra days to campaign after elections have already begun is like sacrificing a queen for a pawn in a chess game without a clear winning strategy. For me, the interests of hundreds of millions of Telegram users will always be incomparably more important than the interests of any political force, ”wrote Mr. Durov.
Roskomnadzor blocked the Smart Voting website on September 6, as it considers it to be a continuation of the Anti-Corruption Fund's work (the liquidated foreign agent, the organization is recognized as extremist, its activities are prohibited). At the request of the department, Apple and Google have removed Alexei Navalny's app from their app stores. Google also blocked Smart Voting lists, and YouTube blocked videos of opposition voting recommendations in the Duma elections.