Apple has restored social media app VKontakte and other VK-owned apps to the App Store, three weeks after removing them.
The apps were removed from Apple platforms in late September after a wave of British sanctions targeting the financial institutions they own. At the time, Apple said in a statement that “These apps are being distributed by developers majority-owned or majority-controlled by one or more parties sanctioned by the UK government.”
‘’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 spokesperson added.
At that time, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) demanded Apple to explain the reason behind the removal of mobile applications of state-controlled tech company VK from the App Store.
Benjamin Ismail, the project’s director, told the Guardian:
The only thing we can say for sure is that, once again, Apple implements its App Stores policies in total opacity, thinking it will not be held accountable for its actions. While we are glad to see those apps restored, as some activists and members of civil society organisations were still using them when they were removed, we condemn Apple for its continuous, erratic, and non-transparent way of managing content in the App Store.
VK is the operator of Vkontakte, the largest social media platform in Russia used by more than 75 million monthly active users. It’s often considered as the Russian version of Facebook.