Google and Apple cave to Putin, remove app aimed at spurring protest voting

An app designed by Russian activists to coordinate protest voting in this weekend’s elections disappeared from the Google and Apple app stores in the country on Friday, a major blow to the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny and allies who hoped to subvert the commanding position of President Vladimir V. Putin’s governing party.

Google removed the app Friday morning after the Russian authorities issued a direct threat of criminal prosecution against the company’s staff in the country, naming specific individuals, according to a person familiar with the company’s decision. The move comes one day after a Russian lawmaker raised the prospect of retribution against employees of the two technology companies, saying they would be “punished.”

The person declined to be identified for fear of angering the Russian government.