ACTUAL Meddling: Russia’s Federation Council Discusses Western Efforts to Effect the Russian Vote
Today the Federation Council is discussing the preparations for the single voting day, in particular, the prevention of foreign interference in the upcoming elections.
Our correspondent Alexei Konopko is now working in the upper chamber. He is now live.
— Hello, Alexey. So, how do they intend to counter the interference?
— Hello, colleagues. By calls and statements so far. But there haven't been any violations yet either. If any, sanctions may be far more serious.
The elections solely were discussed for almost an hour today. Though, the Sovereignty Commission has also other issues to deal with. But with less than a week left before the voting day, Andrey Klimov, the Commission chairman, says that there are some issues that raise concern. It's about a potential interference in the elections of foreign companies, in particular, the American ones. The thing is that Google sells advertising spots on its platforms, including YouTube, for the purposes of agitation and political propaganda and moves, particularly on September, 9. It goes in violation of several laws. First, on September 9, as well as September 8, any political agitation is prohibited. Secondly, Russian elections are no concern of foreigners.
Alexander Klyukin, Central Electoral Commission: «Under Art. 3 para. 6 of the Federal Law „On Basic Guarantees...“ any forms of foreign entities' interference in campaigning in Russia shall not be allowed and shall be considered as a violation of the Russian Federation legislation and the interference in the elections in our country».
Unlike the US accusations against what they call anonymous and allegedly Russian hackers, in this case both the name of the potential violator and the body of the potential crime are known. According to the Central Electoral Commission members, such moves of Google, in particular, and American companies as a whole, are not at all surprising because abandoning the neutrality of the Internet has long been a norm overseas. And provided that it's developed and largely controlled by the USA, it has been decided to use it for the state's benefit.
Vadim Subbotin, Roskomnadzor deputy head: «Dozens of designated YouTube channels, there are more than 40 of them, designed both for nationwide and regional audiences, constantly take regular mass moves urging to violate Russian legislation. Provided with almost unlimited possibilities by foreign Internet giants like Google, a number of actors seeking to destabilize the situation in the Russian Federation are trying to coax Internet users, including those under 18, into unlawful activity».
Today it was suggested warning the international community against such propaganda, the European counterparts, in particular. Both the members of the Central Electoral Commission and Roskomnadzor reported on the letters, urging to respect the national legislation, sent to Google and Mr. Page himself. But no reply has been received so far. Sanctions are known to vary from fines to legal prosecution. But how effective can they be if imposed on one of the world's biggest companies? When we asked Andrey Klimov, the chairman of the Sovereignty Commission, this question, he didn’t comment on a possible blocking of the services on the Russian territory.
Andrey Klimov, the chairman of the Sovereignty Commission: “If you mean the technical capability, our state has it. If you mean legislation, I, for one, as Klimov, Andrey Arkadievich, a citizen of Russia, think that there's still the space for additional measures. But even the existing law on «Basic guarantees...» that I've mentioned, allows the authorized bodies to take certain actions within the framework of their competence and capability to make sure it dawns on certain people".
In any case, the American companies have 4 days left to choose whether to comply with the Russian legislation or to face the consequences. Sanctions could follow afterward. Then, it will be clear if we'll be able to use Google or YouTube.
— Thanks. My colleague Alexei Konopko was live from the Federation Council, which is discussing today the preparations for the single voting day.