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Russia Blocks Navalny Voting Site Ahead of Polls 

Russian authorities on Monday blocked a website of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny that instructed supporters how to vote out candidates from the ruling party in polls later this month.   In a statement to AFP, state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said that access to the website votesmart.appspot.com had been blocked in Russia “because it is being used to continue the work… of an extremist organization.”   FILE – A woman crosses the road behind election campaign billboards in Moscow, Aug. 27, 2021.Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place on September 17-19, with nearly all vocal Kremlin critics including Navalny’s allies barred from running.   Navalny, 45, has this year seen his organizations declared “extremist” and banned, while his top aides have fled the country.   After barely surviving a poisoning with nerve agent Novichok last summer, Navalny was jailed in February in what supporters say is punishment for seeking to challenge President Vladimir Putin’s two-decade hold on power.   FILE – A still image from CCTV footage published by Life.Ru shows what is said to be jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny speaking with a prison guard at the IK-2 corrective penal colony in Pokrov, Russia, in this image released Apr. 2, 2021.Roskomnadzor earlier barred access to dozens of websites linked to Navalny, including his main site navalny.com.   Last week the media regulator also urged Google and Apple to remove an app dedicated to Navalny’s “Smart Voting” campaign from their app stores, but they have yet to respond.   The “Smart Voting” tactic has led the increasingly unpopular United Russia party, currently polling at less than 30%, to lose a number of seats in recent local elections. 

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