Russia has imposed fines on Facebook and Twitter for posting banned content.
On Tuesday, Russia punished Facebook and Twitter for failing to remove forbidden information, adding to a series of other sanctions against global digital companies.
Russia has recently tightened controls on US-based tech companies, accusing them of meddling in this weekend’s parliamentary elections.
According to an official Telegram channel, a Moscow court hit Facebook with five fines totaling 21 million rubles ($288,000) on Tuesday. Twitter was fined five million rubles by the same court.
Russia often sues internet firms for failing to remove content it deems illegal, such as pornographic material or posts encouraging drug use and suicide.
According to the state-run TASS news agency, Facebook has been fined 90 million rubles in Russia, while Twitter has been fined 45 million.
Google was also penalized by judicial authorities for the same offenses, as well as for neglecting to store Russian users’ data on local servers.
Russia banned six major VPN companies last month, including Nord VPN and Express VPN, as part of a broader push to bring foreign technology under its control.
Under the pretense of preventing minors from attending, Russia asked that social media platforms remove messages encouraging Russians to join protests in support of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in January.
That month, Russian President Vladimir Putin lamented the growing power of huge technological businesses, which he claimed were in competition with sovereign states.
Last week, Russia’s foreign ministry said it had summoned the US ambassador to Moscow to submit proof of US tech companies’ “intervention” in upcoming elections.
Almost all Kremlin critics, including Navalny’s allies, have been forbidden from competing in the parliamentary elections scheduled for September 17-19.
Hundreds of websites associated to Navalny have been blocked by Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor, including one that teaches Russians on how to vote out politicians from the ruling United Russia party.
Google and Apple have also been urged by the regulator to remove an app dedicated to Navalny’s “Smart Voting” campaign from their stores.
Navalny, 45, has had his political network and anti-corruption organisation outlawed this year after being imprisoned on old fraud allegations. His closest advisers have left the country.
Navalny’s app was “clearly” linked to US secret services, according to a Russian diplomatic source, because it was developed by Roman Rubanov, the former head of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK).
According to the source, Rubanov is currently employed by Momentus Inc, a California-based space infrastructure business led by senior Pentagon officers.
The increasingly unpopular United Russia party was propelled by the “Smart Voting” strategy. Brief News from Washington Newsday.