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Navalny app pulled from Google, Apple stores after Moscow threat

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Navalny app pulled from Google, Apple stores after Moscow threat
The Navalny app is designed to coordinate protests across Russia and weaken President Vladimir Putin's political power during the country's three-day parliamentary elections this weekend. File Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Facing pressure from the Russian government, both Apple and Google on Friday removed from their app stores a protest app created by high-profile opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The Navalny app is designed to coordinate protests across Russia and weaken President Vladimir Putin's political power during the country's three-day parliamentary elections this weekend.

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The app advises users how to vote for opposition members against Putin's United Russia party in more than 200 districts.

Friday, the app disappeared from both Google and Apple stores following threats by Moscow to prosecute company employees in the country.

Apple and Google complied with a Moscow court ruling that said that the "extremist" app must be removed. Russian authorities similarly blocked dozens of Navalny-linked websites earlier this summer.

Thursday, developers of Navalny told users that its "smart-voting" website and social media channel were under a denial-of-service attack.

Navalny has been a highly vocal critic of Putin's and is perhaps the most prominent opposition leader in Russia. He spent months in a hospital last year after he was poisoned on a flight from Siberia to Moscow. Doctors said he was poisoned with the same Soviet-era nerve agent that sickened former spy Sergei Skripal in 2018.

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Apple and Google did not immediately comment on the app's removal Friday.

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