Apple has eliminated Russia’s most popular social media platform, VKontakte, from its app store globally. Rumors of the measure started to circulate on the internet yesterday and were later on confirmed by the parent company of the social network, VK.
“Now some VK applications are blocked by Apple, so they are not available for download and update in the App Store”, said a statement published on VK’s official website yesterday.
The company stated that its applications will mostly work normally despite Apple’s decision to prevent users from downloading the programs but that there might be some difficulties with notifications and payments. VK emphasized that it will continue to “develop and support applications for iOS”.
Apple Cites Compliance with UK Sanctions to Justify Removal of VK’s App
Apple’s decision to delete VK’s flagship social media app was adopted to comply with the sanctions imposed by the United Kingdom. In a statement sent to the online magazine The Verge, a spokesperson for the company stated:
“These apps are being distributed by developers majority-owned or majority-controlled by one or more parties sanctioned by the UK government”.
The statement continued: “In order to comply with these sanctions, Apple terminated the developer accounts associated with these apps, and the apps cannot be downloaded from any App Store, regardless of location. Users who have already downloaded these apps may continue to use them.”
The Russian Ministry of Digital Affairs has reportedly sent an inquiry to Apple (AAPL) to investigate the reasons why the VK app was deleted from its marketplace according to reports from Russia’s state-controlled media outlet RT.
“The Ministry of Digital Affairs sent a request to Apple Inc about the reasons for deleting VK applications and developer accounts, underlining the social significance and scale of use of the services provided by the Russian company”, stated Ministry Maxut Shadayev.
Executives with Ties to VK Have Been Sanctioned by both the UK and the US
The British government unveiled a list of new names that will be incorporated into their list of sanctioned parties two days ago that included executives from Gazprombank, a financial institution that may have ties with VK.
In total, 49 individuals who hold senior management positions at the country’s top three banks were sanctioned by His Majesty’s Government.
The United States has also sanctioned Russian individuals with ties to VK starting with the firm’s Chief Executive Vladimir Kiriyenko for his alleged ties with Putin as the head of the social media company is the son of a former minister of state.
The US is prompting its nationals to leave Russian territory while they still can amid “uncertainty surrounding circumstances there following recent Russian military actions in Ukraine”, states the US Department of State’s official website.
US travelers and those who are temporarily visiting the country have been experiencing several hurdles that affect their day-to-day living such as difficulties to make payments with credit and debit cards as companies such as Mastercard and Visa have opted to cease operations in the country in retaliation for its hostile actions against Ukraine.
Apple Keeps Scaling Back its Presence in Russia
Apple has stopped selling its products in Russia ever since the country started to invade Ukraine back in February this year. Moreover, the company has banned several Russian media outlets and has made them inaccessible to users globally.
Russia requires companies that commercialize smartphones within the country to incorporate pre-installed Russian apps into the devices. Users are able to choose if they would like to install several VK apps whenever they purchase an iPhone in Russia.
Vladimir Putin’s government has banned several American social media platforms from being downloaded by the country’s residents as is the case of Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
These measures are not necessarily related to the war with Ukraine as other countries such as China have adopted similar measures to foster the creation of similar apps by local companies.
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