MOSCOW, September 10. /TASS/. US companies Google and Facebook had all the required instruments for blocking political advertising during the pre-election silence period in Russia, the head of Russian telecom and media watchdog (Roskomnadzor) said.
“Regardless of who posted those ads, those two companies had the instruments [to block them]. They had the opportunity to block political advertising on the day when the Russian legislation prohibits it, during the pre-election silence period,” Alexander Zharov told TASS.
“A year ago, during a conversation with those two companies [Google and Facebook] we pointed out that in line with the Russian legislation, the pre-election silence period will take place on September 7, and the elections were scheduled for September 8. Nevertheless, political advertising was present in the services provided by both companies,” the Russian official went on.
He added that Russian search engine Yandex and US Google returned completely different search results during the blackout period for election advertising.
“That’s why we are speaking about obvious signs of [election] meddling,” Zharov said.
Earlier, Chairman of the State Duma Commission on Foreign Interference in Russia’s Internal Affairs Vasily Piskarev said he and his colleagues would thoroughly analyze data on meddling in Russia’s elections by Google and Facebook, which was provided by the Central Election Commission and Russia’s telecom and media watchdog.
The watchdog blamed Google, Facebook and YouTube for political advertisement during the September 8 elections in Russia, including during the so-called pre-election silence period. Ahead of the voting day, Roskomnadzor warned Google and Facebook that it was unacceptable to post political advertisements on September 7 and 8 in connection with the elections in Russia.
First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission Nikolai Bulayev said in his turn that many materials provided by the Google search engine could be viewed as those exerting influence on voters.