Millions of Russians have lost the opportunity to use social network VKontakte and other apps following Apple’s decision to remove Russian applications from the App Store.
Russian communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, demanded an explanation from Apple after a technology giant cut Russians off VKontakte, VK Music, VK Clips, VK Messenger, VK Admin, and Mail.ru applications.
VKontakte, Roskomnadzor claimed, is the most popular social network in Russia with over 75 million users and “ is included in the list of socially significant information resources with free access in Russia.”
It added that VKontakte and Mail.ru are subjects to mandatory pre-installation on mobile devices.
“The agency considers that such discriminatory restrictions violate the rights of Russian Internet users to freely receive information and communication and are unacceptable,” Roskomnadzor said.
Apple also removed a number of other popular Russian applications, such as Domklik, Yula, 2GIS, Sberbank, Aeroflot, and Utair, among others.
Apple joined a stream of organizations, announcing a pause of release and sale of its products in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine in February. The company has also halted online transactions, including limiting Apple pay, and disabled some Apple Maps features to protect civilians in Ukraine.
Despite Apple’s clear stance, its products are still desirable in Russia. Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov even said Russians would be able to purchase the new iPhone 14 despite Apple leaving the Russian market – a decision that reportedly could cost the American technology giant $3 million in sales.
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