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Apple removes Russian social media giant VK from app store


CNN

By Brian Fung, CNN

Apple has removed VKontakte, a top Russian social media platform, from its app store, according to the app’s developer.

Apple’s decision also affects other iOS apps produced by VKontakte’s parent, the technology giant VK, according to a blog post Tuesday by the company.

“Now some VK applications are blocked by Apple, so they are not available for download and update in the App Store,” VK wrote in the blog post. Existing installations of those apps should continue to function normally, VK added.

VK apps provide a range of services including email, food delivery and digital payments. It is the fifth-largest website by traffic in Russia, by some estimates. The company’s social network has 97 million monthly users worldwide, while its email service, Mail.ru, has 46 million users within Russia.

The Verge was first to report the news.

Apple confirmed the removals to CNN Business and said the decision aims to comply with newly imposed UK sanctions against Russia. The UK government on Monday had said it was targeting dozens of Russian elites in response to Russia’s “illegal sham referendums in Ukraine” that claimed to show support for Ukraine’s integration with Russia.

Apple said the apps that it removed were from developers who are majority owned or controlled by entities sanctioned by the UK government. Apple said it terminated these developer accounts to comply with the UK sanctions.

Earlier this year in response to the war in Ukraine, Apple stopped selling new products in Russia, clamped down on Apple Pay and removed state-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik from its app stores outside of Russia.

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