The app, also known as the Navalny app, was designed to consolidate the opposition vote. An app created by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has reportedly been removed from Apple and Google app stores in the country as the parliamentary election kicked off Friday. The tech companies removed the app after pressure from Russian authorities, according to reports from The New York Times and Associated Press.
Smart Voting is a tactical voting strategy put forward by the team of Alexei Navalny with the aim of depriving the United Russia party of votes in regional and federal elections. The goal of “Smart Voting” is to consolidate the votes of those who oppose United Russia.
The Smart Voting app, also known as the Navalny app, was designed to “consolidate the opposite vote in each of Russia’s 225 electoral districts,” according to the Times. It reportedly let people enter their address and would then offer up candidates to vote for. The idea behind the protest voye was to get politicians not approved by the Kremlin into parliament, whether or not people agreed with an individual candidate’s views, according to the Times.
On November 38, 2018, Alexei Navalny announced the launch of the Smart Voting project. Initially, the system was mainly aimed at depriving the nominees from the politically dominant United Russia party of their victory in the elections to the post of Governor of St. Peterburg and the Moscow City Duma on September 8, 2019. Navalny explained the strategy as follows (translated from Russia): “The parties themselves cannot agree and nominate a single candidate against United Russia. But we can agree on this. We are different, but we have one policy – we are against the monopoly of United Russia. Everything else is mathematics. If we all act smartly and vote for the strongest candidate, he will win, and United Russia will lose.”
Russia’s parliamentary elections run from Friday to Sunday. President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party is reportedly expected to win a majority of seats amid a crackdown on opposition. Ahead of the election, the Kremlin has stepped up online censorship, including demanding keywords associated with the opposition be blocked from Google and Russian search site Yandex. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook have also faced pressure to purge content the Kremlin disapproves of. Apple and Google didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.