Apple removes two Russian social media apps, blocking millions

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Apple removes two Russian social media apps, blocking millions

The top social network and communication sites in the app store were removed by U.S. tech company Apple, blocking millions from communication on these platforms across Russia.

Russia s Federal Communications Regulator, Roskomnadzor, demanded answers Wednesday as to why applications operated by Russian state-controlled tech firm VK had been targeted by the U.S. tech giant.

According to Apple, the move was not a matter of politics, but rather was a step taken to ensure it was in compliance with the sanctions enforced by the U.K.

VK operates a Facebook-like social media platform, known as Vkontakte, with more than 75 million monthly users along with Mail.ru.

Apple said both apps were distributed by developers that are majority-owned or majority-controlled by parties sanctioned by the U.K.

The VK CEO Vladimir Kiriyenko is reportedly under U.K. sanctions along with Sergei Kiriyenko, his father, who serves as President Vladimir Putin's first deputy chief of staff.

Roskomnadzor called the restrictions discriminatory and claimed that the move violated millions of users' right to free information and communication through the internet.

Russia has blocked U.S. social media companies like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as limited user communication freedoms.

Both Vkontakte and Mail.ru must be downloaded at the time of purchase so that users who already have access to the apps devices where they were previously installed will be able to keep using them.

The newest restrictions will only apply to those who purchase new phones, according to a report by Reuters.

After Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, Apple removed several sites from its stores, including the airline Aeroflot and top banks like Sberbank and VTB.