The messaging service Telegram was his last hope before this weekend’s elections in Russia. Now that hope is extinguished.
Pavel Durov started your position in a way that made one realize there was soon to be one mens.
“We are happy that millions of Russians have had the opportunity to use this bot,” he wrote, adding: “Telegram is the freest platform on this network.”
Pavel Durov? He is the Russian billionaire behind the encrypted messaging service Telegram. The application is very popular, especially in Russia and other authoritarian countries, because it provides the opportunity to communicate without being monitored by the authorities.
“Bot-in”? It’s an automated service made for Telegram where Russians get advice on who to vote for in this weekend’s election. The service helps voters find opposition candidates with the best chance of success in the fight against Vladimir Putin and his party.
After Google and Apple removed the “Vote Smart” app before the weekend, which offered a similar service, Telegram was the only way Putin’s opponents organized their vote.
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And this is where Durovs mens comes in. A little further down in the Telegram message he posted on Friday night, he writes this:
“At midnight, we will limit the use of fines related to election campaigns.”
If you try to use this service today, you will receive an error message. It has prompted supporters of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny to react vigorously.
“It is a real shame that private companies are introducing censorship while supposedly defending ideas of freedom,” Kira Jarmysj wrote on Twitter.
She is the spokesperson for Navalny.
It was his followers who were behind the “Vote smart” application and the bots service on Telegram.
Blame it on Google and Apple
Durov defends the action saying that elections are already underway in Russia. He writes that it is common for many years for election campaigns to end when people start casting their vote.
He also points out that Telegram is in danger of disappearing from the Google and Apple app stores if it does not follow the line that these giants follow.
“The oligopoly of Apple and Google are a threat to free speech,” he writes.
An oligopoly is a system in which very few large players control the entire market.
The reactions against Durov and Telegram have been many. Several question his reasoning. They believe that he has been pressured by the authorities. President Putin has previously threatened to block the Internet’s Telegram in Russia.
– Blames Apple and Google for giving in to censorship. But his opportunity is worth noting, writes Moscow correspondent Max Seddon in the Financial Times on Twitter.
Election fraud accusations
The elections in Russia are not expected to bring about significant changes in the country’s power structure. The 450 members of the Duma, that is, the National Assembly, are elected. In addition, the town will elect regional and local representatives.
The United Russia party has long had full control over the National Assembly, occupying 336 of the 450 seats in the Duma. Putin’s party will likely be able to retain two-thirds of the seats even after the elections.
Most opposition candidates are arrested or forced into exile. Many have been denied the right to vote. Furthermore, several reports of electoral fraud have already been received.
For the first time in three decades, election observers from the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) are not present at a Russian election. The organization says the Russian authorities made “unreasonable demands” that would have made it impossible to carry out the work.
Sunday is the last election day.