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Russia blocks app used to organize protests

MOSCOW — Russia has banned the use on its territory of a smartphone app widely used like a walkie-talkie to organize demonstrations and other gatherings.

The app, called Zello, reportedly has been popular among long-distance truckers in Russia who are conducting strikes to protest a road tariff system.

Zello, based in the United States, said Russia halted the use of the app late Wednesday. The agency that oversees electronic communications in Russia, Roskomnadzor, had announced earlier in the week that the service would be ended because Zello did not comply with an Internet law.

That law demands that Internet services store copies in Russia of all messages sent via them for six months and make them available to authorities on demand.

A statement on Zello’s company blog called the requirement “absurd.”

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