Russia’s Foreign Ministry says U.S. Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan has been summoned over alleged election interference by U.S. tech giants.
The ministry said Sullivan met with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on September 10 where he was informed that Moscow has proof of violations of Russian law by U.S. tech firms ahead of elections to the State Duma later this month.
“During the conversation, it was emphasized that the Russian side possesses irrefutable evidence of the violation of Russian legislation by the American ‘digital giants’ in the context of the preparation and conduct of elections to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation,” the statement said, adding such interference was “unacceptable.
The state news agencies TASS and RIA Novosti said Sullivan arrived and left the ministry in Moscow after 20 minutes without commenting on why he was there.
The statement did not give any specifics, but in recent months Russian authorities — including President Vladimir Putin — have continuously accused firms such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp of failing to adhere to local laws on issues such as the storage of personal data and the removal of content deemed to be illegal.
In recent months, Moscow courts have fined Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram, and TikTok millions of rubles over the issues.
Many critics say the push has nothing to do with “Internet integrity” and instead have accused the authorities of trying to quell dissent with parliamentary elections looming on September 17-19 and the ruling United Party’s popularity slumping.