Russian agents 'showed up at Google exec's home in Moscow'

Putin’s war on social media: Russian agents threatened Google and Apple execs in Moscow with prison if they didn’t remove app to register protest votes against Putin

  • Google officials say the supposed FSB agents gave an order to the female Google executive to either take the app down in 24 hours or be jailed 
  • After the tech giant moved the executive to a hotel room under a pseudonym, the same agents came and visited her again to tell them they wanted it down 
  • Within hours, the Smart Voting app – created by Putin opponent Alexi Navalny which allowed Russians to register protest votes against Putin – was taken down 
  • An Apple employee in Moscow had received similar threats from the FSB, the successor to the KGB 
  • Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, Google and many other tech companies have said they’ll stop doing business in Russia 

Russian agents allegedly showed up at the home of a Google executive in Moscow to clamp down on an app being used by the Russian president’s biggest opponent as part of Vladimir Putin plan to shut down any internal criticism. 

Google officials say the supposed FSB agents gave an order to the female Google executive to either take the app down in 24 hours or be jailed in a never-before disclosed intimidation campaign last year, according to the Washington Post reported. 

After the tech giant moved the executive to a hotel room under a pseudonym, the same agents came and visited her again to tell them they still wanted the app down. 

Within hours, the Smart Voting  app – an app created by Putin opponent Alexi Navalny which allowed Russians to register protest votes against Putin – was taken down from both the Apple and Google app stores.  

The Post was told that an Apple employee in Moscow had received similar threats from the FSB, the successor to the KGB. 

The names and nationalities of the two employees for the US-based companies have not been revealed. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has allegedly made threats to big tech employees, forcing them to shut down apps

An app designed by Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was allegedly shut down via threats by Russian agents

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, Google and many other tech companies have said they’ll stop doing business in Russia. 

The Google Cloud, Google Pay and YouTube monetization are now effectively dead in the country as of Thursday.   

Apple has also shut down many services, including its Apple Pay technology, and stop selling hardware in Russia. This caused for long lines at train stations in Moscow. 

Microsoft, IMB and most of the major American credit card companies have stopped their business in the country as well. 

Russian President Putin has struck back, blocking access to Twitter and Meta-owned apps, including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. He’s also taken to shutting down independent news organizations. 


Google CEO Sundar Pichai (left) and Apple boss Tim Cook 

The debris of damaged houses lies on the ground near the spot where a cultural center and administration building once stood, destroyed during an aerial bombing as Russia’s advance on the Ukrainian capital continues, in the village of Byshiv outside Kyiv

His most extreme tactic may be 2021’s ‘hostage law’ which forces foreign tech companies to keep their employees headquartered in Russia. 

Putin has also, of course, jailed opposition leader Navalny.  

Google and Apple argue that they follow the laws of the countries in which they operate. They have condemned global human rights violations.

The companies have not yet responded to requests for comment on the report.

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