Russia’s State communications regulator warned Google to desist from advertising protests on YouTube platform ahead of local elections in Moscow. Protests were aired live on YouTube with thousands of people calling for a fair election.
The watchdog handling the case told Google in a letter that advertising and publicising protests on any of its platform was considered “interference in domestic politics.” Out of the numerous protesters over the weekend, over 200 were detained, alongside 2000 other people who were arrested.
This is not the first time that Russia would slam Google. The Watchdog, Roskomnadoz had fined the tech firm for refusing to remove the links banned by the government in a sum less than $20,000 in total. The watchdog said in a statement that if Google doesn’t take correction it would charge it for attempting to obstruct democratic elections in Russia.
Thousands of people rallied in Moscow five weeks in a row demanding that the government allow independent candidates partake in the city’s upcoming local elections. The authorities sanctioned some of these protests. To make the matters more disturbing for the Russian government, these protests were aired live on YouTube. This is the crux of the matter.
The Watchdog refers to this as interference in domestic politics and obstruction of democratic elections. Google, however is yet to respond to either of these allegations.
Russia has been hard with policies in recent times, tilting towards the direction of a more stringent domestic censorship, similar to the enforcement of the Great Firewall of China. Activists fear that the government may adopt the Chinese style of national firewall to curb the contents that circulate within the country.
In China today, Google, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook and others are restricted from use. The role of the Great Firewall of China is to block access to selected foreign websites and to slow down cross-border internet traffic.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president in May, signed into law measures that would create an independent national internet that would operate separately from the rest of the world like what is obtainable in present day China. In retrospect, the government wants to achieve a controlled local internet and prevent Russia from interference, in the guise of what the Kremlin calls a “sustainable, secure and fully functioning local internet.”