The Russian government is increasingly pressuring American technology companies to take down content from their platforms with threats of fines, throttling and criminal prosecution for local staff ahead of this weekend’s parliamentary election. 

The breadth of the censorship demands, backed by recently-passed laws targeting content deemed to be illegal, are challenging the internet companies’ commitments to human rights principles and internet freedom, experts say.

“Russia realized long ago the liberating power of digital technologies and digital platforms and how they can be used for anti-government protests,” said Baurzhan Rakhmetov, an assistant professor at Kazguu University in Kazakhstan and an expert in Russian internet censorship. “So it has passed restrictive laws targeting internet companies that silence opposition voices and political speech.”

On Friday, after weeks of resistance, Apple and Google complied with…

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