Russia’s communication watchdog Roskomnadzor at the weekend issued a blunt warning to Google about interference in its internal politics.
The warning from Roskomnadzor comes as Moscow continues to experience weeks of protest, ahead of local elections in in the Russian capital.
Last week it was reported that Apple was being investigated by Russia’s anti-monopoly watchdog, after a complaint from Kaspersky Lab, that the iPad maker may be abusing its dominant market position after it declined to approve Kaspersky Lab’s Safe Kids application.
But now according to CNN, Google has been warned by Roskomnadzor to stop ‘advertising’ protests on YouTube ahead of local elections in Moscow.
The watchdog reportedly said that it considered advertisements and push notifications that publicise protests as ‘interference’ in its domestic politics.
For the past five weeks, Moscow has experienced protests by tens of thousands of people, calling for fair local elections. According to OVD-Info, a group that monitors Russian police, more than 200 people were detained this weekend alone.
The protesters are calling for Russian authorities to allow independent candidates to take part in city’s upcoming local elections.
Roskomnadzor did not apparently identify which YouTube accounts or channels it is concerned about, but it is known that several YouTube accounts broadcast the protests live.
If Google does not take corrective action, Roskomnadzor said in a statement that it would respond to what it regards as attempts to obstruct ‘democratic elections in Russia.’
CNN said that Google did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.
But it noted that Roskomnadzor has taken action against Google before.
It reportedly fined the search giant twice in the past year for failing to remove links to websites banned by the government, but the fines only amounted to less than $20,000 in total.
It should be remembered that Russia under President Putin is seeking to disconnect the country from foreign Internet servers.
In May he signed a signed a controversial bill that routes Russian web traffic through points controlled by Russian government.
The law had already been approved by lawmakers in the State Duma, the Russian equivalent of the Houses of Parliament, despite the protests of thousands of people, concerned it would tighten government controls of the Internet in Russia.
Russian lawmakers had backed the tighter internet controls, as they believe it is necessary to prevent foreign meddling in Russia’s affairs.
Essentially, the law will increase Russian “sovereignty” over its Internet presence, and the legislation has been labelled in the Russian media as the “sovereign internet” bill.
The law will allow Russia to route all Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by the Russian government.
It also proposes building a national Domain Name System (DNS) to allow the internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.
Russian Internet firms have until 1 November to comply with the law.
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