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Russia Blames Facebook, Google for ‘Interference’ in Regional Elections That Dealt Putin’s Party a Setback

September 9, 2019, 5:37 PM UTC

The tables have turned: After Russia held local and regional elections on Sunday, the country’s media watchdog accused Facebook and Google of running advertisements during the polls, which could have “interfered” with the vote.

The tech giants quickly brushed off the claims.

Google did not confirm whether its platform was running advertisements during the elections on Sunday, however a spokesperson tells Fortune the company supports “responsible political advertising, and expect all political ads and destinations to comply with local legal requirements, including campaign and election laws and mandated election ‘silence periods.'”

A Facebook spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment, however the company says advertisers, and not Facebook, are responsible for complying with local political advertising laws, according to Reuters.

Russia’s elections have been overshadowed by recent protests after many opposition candidates were not allowed on the ballots after the Central Election Commission claimed they hadn’t collected enough signatures from genuine supporters.

Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state media watchdog, says the tech giants ran political advertisements during what was supposed to be a quiet period while people cast their votes on Sunday.

“Such actions can be seen as interference in Russia’s sovereign affairs and hindering the conduct of democratic elections in the Russian Federation,” Roskomnadzor says in a statement, according to the BBC.

While the elections on Sunday were at the regional and local level, they also marked a setback of sorts for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The ruling United Russia party, which supports Putin, lost one-third of its seats in the Moscow Parliament, according to RIA news agency. However, the party is still projected to keep its ruling majority.

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