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Alexei Navalny's Smart Voting app is seen on a phone in Moscow. Photo: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP

Apple and Google have deleted jailed Kremlin opposition leader Alexei Navalny's tactical voting app from their app stores, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The tech companies removed the opposition-led Smart Voting app on the same day Russians head to the polls to elect a new parliament amid the largest crackdown of Kremlin critics in years.

The app, created by Navalny's allies, was designed to rally support for candidates who are most likely to defeat members of the country's ruling political party, United Russia.

  • The Russian government previously threatened to fine the tech companies if they did not delete the app, arguing they were interfering with the elections.

What they're saying: "Removing the Navalny app from stores is a shameful act of political censorship," Ivan Zhdanov, a top Navalny aide, said on Twitter. "Russia's authoritarian government and propaganda will be thrilled."

The big picture: Russian activists have used American tech companies, like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and Chinese-owned TikTok to organize anti-Kremlin rallies over Russian President Vladimir Putin's grip on power.

Go deeper

Oct 20, 2021 - World

Kremlin says Putin will not travel to UN climate summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a governmental meeting in Moscow on Oct. 20. Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

The Kremlin said Wednesday that Russian President Putin will not travel to the United Nations climate summit that starts in Glasgow, Scotland, on Oct. 31 but will take part remotely while other representatives attend in person, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: A lack of a physical appearance from the leader of the fourth largest carbon dioxide-emitting country in the world would be a blow to the crucial climate talks.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

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