Apple Removes Russian VK Apps From App Store in Response to UK Sanctions

Apple has removed from the App Store all iOS apps belonging to Russian technology conglomerate VK, a move Apple says is in response to the latest round of UK sanctions on Russian oligarchs.

vk logo

"These apps are being distributed by developers majority-owned or majority-controlled by one or more parties sanctioned by the UK government," said Apple spokesperson Adam Dema in a statement given to The Verge. "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 a new package of sanctions affecting tens of executives at Gazprombank, a Russian bank with links to VK. The sanctions were in response to sham referenda recently staged by Russian authorities in occupied areas of Ukraine.

The Russian Ministry of Digital Affairs told state media outlet RT that it was looking into "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." Meanwhile, VK told Russian news outlet Interfax that the apps may continue to work but that there could 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 dismissed as CEO of VK in April 2014 after he allegedly refused to hand over the personal details of users to the Russian Federal Security Service.

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

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Top Rated Comments

LeeW Avatar
18 months ago

What happened to free speech? Many people on the app don’t agree with putin, the people suffering are innocent Russians.
The reason has nothing to do with Free Speech, it's who owns it. You can't just throw 'Free Speech' in front of everything.
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Alchemist Avatar
18 months ago

Free speech means the government won't persecute you for expressing your opinion. This isn't that.

Also, Russians aren't innocent. Most support what Russia is doing in Ukraine, and Putin.
This. Removing a platform, in this case VK, from another platform, in this case the Apple App Store, is not a denial of free speech.

If you're concerned about defending free speech, take a look at Russia itself. Expressing an anti-war opinion in Russia will get you locked up right now. Holding a blank placard on the street will get you locked up right now. That is a denial of free speech, this action by Apple and the UK is not.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ninethirty Avatar
18 months ago

What happened to free speech? Many people on the app don’t agree with putin, the people suffering are innocent Russians.
Free speech means the government won't persecute you for expressing your opinion. This isn't that.

Also, Russians aren't innocent. Most support what Russia is doing in Ukraine, and Putin.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ninethirty Avatar
18 months ago

Many don't actually support, but speaking out isn't an option for them. And many of those that support Putin's activities do so based on the story they're fed, which is very different to the story we're fed in the West.
Many is not most. Do yourself a favor and read about split Russian families. Those still living in Russia believe quite strongly what they've been told, and won't listen at all to expat Russians who have tried to warn them that they're being fed lies.

Regardless, taking some extra time to look at any situation objectively, instead of just believing what you're being told on state run tv (which should already be a warning flag to most), isn't exactly hard, and yet they're not interested.

This isn't any different than those that choose to believe MAGA lies about stolen elections, or Q Anon nonsense. They're choosing to believe what isn't true, and supporting liars willfully.

Russians are not innocent. They are willing participants.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SoldOnApple Avatar
18 months ago
I guess VK won't be replacing Facebook anytime soon.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ian87w Avatar
18 months ago
So the sanction is from the UK? Can Apple simply block the app on the UK app store? I mean if it's from the US government, then maybe it makes more sense. Does this mean the UK government can dictate what Apple have in the app store for other countries? Maybe someone can provide more details. Genuinely curious.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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