22:56 GMT18 June 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Targeting advertising on platforms such as Google may be used as a loophole for interference in Russia's domestic affairs, the head of the legal issues department at the Russian Prosecutor General's Office, Artur Zavalunov, has stated.

    "The providers say they use their platforms for advertisements, but they can actually be a loophole for the interference in our internal affairs. Such an approach is unacceptable for Russia, as we have already stressed on the international arena, in the United Nations", Zavalunov told the Russian upper house of parliament.

    The statement comes after Russian communication watchdog Roskomnadzor said on 8 September that it had discovered political ads on Google and Facebook timed with a regional election day in violation of Russian law. Roskomnadzor later sent information regarding Google and Facebook violations to the relevant Russian parliamentary commissions. The commission on investigating foreign interference in Russia's internal affairs is part of the Russian lower house of parliament, while the interim committee for the protection of state sovereignty and the prevention of intervention in Russia's internal affairs is part of the upper house’s purview.

    Counting of votes in elections on a single voting day
    © Sputnik / Evgeny Epanchintsev
    Counting of votes in elections on a single voting day

    Google has commented on the situation, saying it supported responsible political advertising and expected "all political ads and destinations to comply with local legal requirements".

    Following the reports, the Russian Federation Council's Commission for the Protection of State Sovereignty invited Facebook and Google to set up a joint contact group to avoid violations of Russian laws on these platforms.

    The two companies have been repeatedly criticised in many countries, including Russia, over manipulating votes and harvesting personal data for political purposes.

    On 8 September, people in many Russian regions, including the capital, went to the polls to choose members of city councils, federal legislature, governors or mayors.

    regional elections, Roskomnadzor, domestic affairs, Google, Russia
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