Apple App Store removes Russian social network VKontakte

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Apple confirmed on Wednesday that it has removed popular Russian social network VKontakte from its App Store globally due to sanctions imposed by Britain.

The UK government on Monday sanctioned 92 Russian individuals and entities after President Vladimir Putin’s regime held referendums in Moscow-controlled areas of Ukraine – denounced by Kyiv and its allies as a “sham” – and stepped up threats against the ‘West.

“Sham referendums held at the barrel of a gun cannot be free or fair and we will never recognize their results,” UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

The sanctions target “those behind these bogus votes, as well as individuals who continue to support the Russian regime’s war of aggression”, he said.

St. Petersburg-based tech company VK said in a blog post that some of its apps are no longer available on the App Store, which serves as the sole gateway for content on Apple mobile devices.

VK apps are used for messaging, digital payments and groceries as well as social media.

The VK apps removed from the App Store were distributed by developers controlled or majority-owned by UK government-sanctioned parties, and Apple is complying with the law, according to the Silicon Valley tech giant.

Apple said it terminated developer accounts associated with the apps, which were not available on the App Store regardless of user location.

People who have already installed the apps on the devices can still use them, but updates will no longer be provided through the App Store, according to Apple and VK.

“Their basic functionality will be familiar and stable,” VK, parent of VKontakte, said of the apps.

“There may be difficulties with the work of notifications and payments.”

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