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.
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. On all smartphones sold in the country, Vkontakte’s mobile app and the tech firm’s e-mail service Mail.ru come pre-installed.
On Tuesday, VK released a blog post, saying some of its apps “are blocked by Apple, so they are not available for download and update in the App Store.’’ It also stated that previously installed apps still work and that they are going to ‘’continue to develop and support applications for iOS’’.
As reported by Reuters, the country’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said on Wednesday that the iPhone-maker’s decision blocked millions of Russian users from accessing VK apps, asking the company to explain the reason behind it.
Speaking to The Verge, Apple’s spokesperson Adam Dema said, “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.
The regulator said that Apple’s actions are ‘’discriminatory’’ and breach Russian people’s right to access free information and communication.
In addition to VK apps, the regulator also demanded Apple to provide an explanation for the removal of some other apps including those of Aeroflot, the largest airline in the country, and various banks including VTB and Sberbank.