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Kremlin tells officials to throw away iPhones

Officials involved in preparations for Russia’s 2024 presidential election must stop using iPhones: that is reportedly the tough new stance being taken on Apple devices by the Kremlin, amid fears about online security.

Sergei Kiriyenko, first deputy chief of staff of the presidential administration, told domestic political officials at a Kremlin-organised seminar to change their phones by April 1, Kommersant newspaper reported.

“It’s all over for the iPhone: either throw it away or give it to the children,” Kommersant quoted one of the seminar participants as saying. “Everyone will have to do it in March.”

According to Reuters, when asked about the issue on March 20, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he could not confirm the report.

“Smartphones should not be used for official business,” Peskov said. “Any smartphone has a fairly transparent mechanism, no matter what operating system it has – Android or iOS. Naturally, they are not used for official purposes.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Kremlin may provide other devices with different operating systems to replace the iPhones, Kommersant said, adding that the order to cease using iPhones had been directed at those involved in domestic politics – for which Kiriyenko is responsible.

Vladimir Putin has long claimed to have no smartphone, though Peskov has said the Russian President does use the internet from time to time.

Shortly after Russia sent its troops into Ukraine last year, US and British spies claimed a scoop by uncovering – and going public with – intelligence that Putin was planning to invade. It is unclear how the spies obtained such intelligence.

In March 2022, Apple stopped selling its products in Russia over Moscow’s decision to attack Ukraine. However, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov told reporters last September that Russian buyers would have the chance to purchase the latest iPhone models.

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