MOSCOW – Russia has accused the United States of interfering in its parliamentary elections, which take place in just over a week.
Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s “Smart Vote” app was “somehow connected with the Pentagon,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Sakharova told radio State Radio Rossii.
Navalny supporters are using the app to call on Russians to vote against the United Russia Kremlin Party in the election, which takes place September 17-19.
The associated home page has been blocked in Russia for several days. Authorities have also banned Internet search engines Google and Yandex from displaying the term “Smart Vote” in search results.
Sakharova also referred to a conversation between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan on Friday.
Sullivan had been told that the Russian side had “compelling evidence” of law violations by US internet giants in the upcoming Duma elections, he said in a statement.
On the American side, there was initially no reaction to the allegations.
Tatyana Stanovaya, a political scientist, said Zakharova’s statements were an attempt to turn “smart voting” into a national security issue.
She said this would allow Russian authorities to take further, longer-term measures to contain attempts by Navalny’s team to call for a protest vote, in comments she posted on Telegram.
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