Apple removes Russian VK apps from App Store in response to UK sanctions


Apple has removed all iOS apps belonging to Russian tech conglomerate VK from the App Store, a move that Apple says responds to the latest round of UK sanctions against Russian oligarchs.

“These apps are distributed by developers majority owned or controlled by one or more UK government-sanctioned parties,” Apple spokesman Adam Dema said in a statement provided to The Verge. “In order to comply with these sanctions, Apple has terminated the developer accounts associated with these apps, and the apps cannot be downloaded from any App Store, regardless of their location. Users who have already downloaded these apps can continue to use them.”

The British government on Monday enacted a new set of sanctions affecting dozens of executives of Gazprombank, a Russian bank linked to VK. The sanctions were in response to sham referendums recently held by Russian authorities in occupied areas of Ukraine.

Russia’s Digital Affairs Ministry told state media RT that it examined “the reasons for the deletion of VK applications and developer accounts, highlighting the social importance and the extent of the use of the services provided by the Russian company”. Meanwhile, VK told Russian media Interfax that apps can continue to work, but there might be issues with notifications and payments.

VK, or VKontakte, is a social media app created in 2006 by Pavel Durov, who also founded and still runs Telegram. Durov was removed from his position as CEO of VK in April 2014 after he allegedly refused to hand over users’ personal data to the Russian Federal Security Service.

Apple’s removal of apps from its ‌App Store‌ means users no longer have access to social media network app VK, the fourth most popular website in Russia, as well as and VK Music . The apps were included in a list that Apple was legally obligated to show new iPhone owners in Russia for download during initial setup, until Apple stopped selling its products in the country.

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