Apple removes the largest Russian social network from the App Store | War in Ukraine

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Apple pulls Russia’s largest social network from the App Store | War in Ukraine

Vladimir Kirienko, the CEO of the Russian technology group VK, is the son of a close associate of President Vladimir Putin.

The American technology giant Apple has removed from the App Store all apps owned by VK, the state-controlled company behind Vkontakte, the Russian Facebook of some 75 million users.

Mail.ru, VK Music and Youla classifieds apps are also affected, and developer accounts have been removed from the App Store, an Apple spokesperson told specialist site The Verge.

People who already have these applications on their smartphone or tablet can continue to use them, but it will no longer be possible to download them, anywhere in the world. Note that since 2021, a law has come into force in Russia to force technology companies to pre-install Russian-made applications on devices sold in the country.

This news comes days after the UK government announced new sanctions against 23 Russian oligarchs, executives of Gazpombank, a bank in Russia with links to VK.

These apps are distributed by developers owned or majority controlled by one or more UK government-sanctioned parties. In order to comply with these sanctions, Apple has terminated developer accounts associated with these apps, an Apple spokesperson said in a statement.

L' Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor demanded an explanation from Apple on Wednesday, adding that the actions deprived millions of Russians of access to VK apps.

The government organization has already fined several tech groups for violating data storage rules. It also sanctioned those who failed to remove content deemed illegal by Russia – disputes that have escalated since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last February.

The agency considers such discriminatory restrictions, which violate the right of Russian internet users to receive information and communicate freely, to be unacceptable, Roskomnadzor said in a statement.

Russia, however, has itself limited its people's access to information by forcing all major independent Russian media to shut down and blocking Facebook, Instagram and Twitter .

VK tightened its grip on the Russian internet space this month by finalizing a deal to buy news aggregator from rival Yandex (the Russian Google), Zen content platform and yandex.ru homepage.

With information from Reuters, and&n bsp;The Verge

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