Technology

Apple removes Russian social network VKontakte from its app store

Apple told AFP that the publishers of the mobile services VKontakte are controlled by entities under London sanctions. (Photo: 123RF)

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple confirmed Wednesday that it has removed apps from the Russian social network VKontakte from its app store following new British sanctions imposed on Russian organizations and individuals in response to an annexation vote orchestrated by Moscow in four regions of Ukraine.

Users of VKontakte (VK), a Russian platform similar to Facebook, will be able to continue using their apps if they are already installed on their iPhone, but will not download new ones or update them.

“Difficulties with notifications and payments are possible. VKontakte specialists are working on this,” the network said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the apps were recently updated to work well without updates “for a long time.”

Apple told AFP that the publishers of the mobile services VKontakte are controlled by entities under London sanctions. Therefore, the California group has blocked the accounts of these developers, and their applications can no longer be downloaded regardless of the country.

London announced new sanctions against Russia on Monday in response to referendums that Kyiv and its Western allies have deemed “illegal”. They have been taking place since yesterday in four regions of Ukraine, fully or partially controlled by Moscow.

Among the 92 targeted organizations, in particular, are “high-ranking Russian officials who organized illegal elections.” […] as well as “favorite public relations agency [Vladimir] Putin,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The list of people under British sanctions, which already has more than 1,200 people, also includes four oligarchs: God Nissanov and Zarakh Iliev, two leaders of development groups, Iskander Makhmudov, CEO of two steel companies, and Igor Makarov. President of the Areti Group, active in the oil and gas sector.

Access to social media and news sites has been severely restricted in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine.

Many local media and international platforms have been blocked or forced to shut down by Moscow, which is cracking down on any criticism of the offensive.

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