Two weeks before parliamentary elections, Russian authorities are trying to curtail a project by Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s team by stopping Google from showing certain search terms.
The “smart voting” project asks people to cast their ballots on September 17-19 for other candidates besides those from the ruling United Russia so as to break the Kremlin party’s grasp on power.
Authorities have gone to a court in Moscow, which ordered Google to stop displaying the term “smart voting” in its search engine results.
Navalny’s team shared the court decision on Sunday.
According to the court document, a company called Woolintertrade, which sells sheep’s wool, had gone to court over the term “smart voting,” which it claims for itself.
Ivan Zhdanov, a Navalny confidant, called the court decision unlawful and said he was surprised that the registration of a trademark was moving so quickly right before the election. “We are counting on Google not to implement this decision,” wrote Zhdanov on Instagram.
Russia’s media regulator has already asked Google and Apple to stop offering Navalny’s app in their stores, telling them that refusing to do so would be considered “interference in Russian elections.”