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Apple Removes VK from App Store – Russia Regulatory Demands an Explanation from the Tech Giant

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The company said that VKontakte has been taken down from the app store and is unavailable to download and update. Though their already installed apps will continue to work on apple, they might face some difficulties with payments and notifications. Other than that, users can access the giant social network via mobile websites only.

Roskomnadzor, a Russian regulator, said, “this action had deprived millions of Russian user’s access to VK apps and demanded an explanation for their decision.” Roskomnadzor called the restrictions “discriminatory” and said, “they violated Russian internet users’ right to free information and communication.”

A translated statement from VK in a blog post reads, “Now some VK applications are blocked by Apple, so they are not available for download and update in the App Store.” “VK will continue to develop and support applications for iOS. Our experts do everything to maintain and continue to improve user comfort,” The company added.

This decision has also affected the service of other apps created by VKontakte parent. VK apps provide a wide range of services, including emails, food deliveries, and digital payments. This giant platform has 97 million monthly users globally and is the fifth largest website in Russia. Its mail service only occupies approximately 46 million users within Russia’s territory.

In response to that, Apple spokesperson Adam Dema told the verge Apple has removed VK’s apps and shut down the accounts of its developers due to newly imposed UK sanctions on Russian companies.

“These apps are being distributed by developers majority-owned or majority-controlled by one or more parties sanctioned by the UK government,” said Apple’s spokesperson Dema. “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 UK government on Monday enacted 92 new sanctions against Russia in response to Russia’s “Illegal sham referendums in four regions of Ukraine.”

The UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, said, “Sham referendums held at the barrel of a gun cannot be free or fair and we will never recognize their result.”.They follow a clear pattern of violence, intimidation, torture, and forced deportations in the areas of Ukraine [that] Russia has seized,” he added. “Today’s sanctions will target those behind these sham votes, as well as the individuals that continue to prop up the Russian regime’s war of aggression. We stand with the Ukrainian people and our support will continue as long as it takes to restore their sovereignty.”

The sanctions have also affected executives at Gazprombank, a Russian bank linked to VK.

The Russian Digital Affairs Ministry, in response to Apple’s removal, told state-owned media outlet RT it has asked Apple to explain “the reasons for deleting VK applications and developer accounts, underlining the social significance and scale of use of the services provided by the Russian company.” They warned saying they have an unspecified “plan of action” based on the response. However, apps are available on Google’s play store.

This decision has affected not only the users in Russia and in all locations. Apple has also taken down other apps, including those of major airlines Aeroflot, banks Sberbank, and VTB, and Roskomnadzor has demanded Apple explain why these apps were revoked apple store globally

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