This is how the relationship between Russia and Apple was destroyed in a year – Now Putin’s measure was full and iPhones were banned

Iltalehti compiled the year’s events between the technology company and Russia. The relationship, which got worse step by step, reached its culmination point this week.

Apple has encountered many challenges while operating in Russia. Monica Davey/Sergei Malgavko

This week, the Kremlin ordered the technology giant Apple’s phones to be replaced. In the future, no one working on the 2024 Russian presidential election will be allowed to use the iPhone. Apple phones will be phased out by the end of this month. About that reported Reuters.

The relationship between the technology giant and the Kremlin has been badly inflamed since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Apple phones, considered a status symbol in the eastern neighbor, seem to have received the wrath of the state.

Iltalehti compiled the events of the year that have led to the destruction of the gaps.

March 2022: Product sales bans

On the first day of the month, Apple banned the sale of its products in Russia. It was a protest against Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, which had started the previous week. With the ban, Apple stated that it would limit the availability of its digital services in the country. The restrictions also included the Apple Pay payment application.

Also Spreading Kremlin propaganda the applications of the news agencies Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik were removed from the Apple application store.

Shortly after the ban, Apple updated its map app in a way that infuriated Russia. With the update, the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula was part of Ukraine again in the map application. Previously, the peninsula was marked as a disputed area with a dotted line. About that time reports online publication Mashable.

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April 2022: Voting app developed by the opposition and fines

An application developed by the opposition banned by Russia was returned to Apple’s app store. The application was developed for voting in the Russian Duma elections 2021 in September.

Before the elections, the Russian authorities had approached the management of Apple and Google and threatened their representatives in the country with arrests if the application was not removed from their application stores. Both companies bowed to the will of the authorities before the vote. Right after the election, Google returned the app back to its store, but Apple didn’t until last spring. About that time reported the Washington Post.

At the end of April, Apple was sued in Russia due to the closure of its Apple Pay payment application. The Russian law firm Chernyshow, Lukoyanov & Partners claimed that the company violated consumer rights. In the challenge, compensation of 90 million rubles (about 1.2 million euros) was demanded from the company to compensate for the “moral damage” caused to the citizens. About that reported Reuters.

July 2022: Fines for data practices

Apple received more payment demands from the Russian authorities. The company was fined 2 million rubles (about 32,000 euros) because the company did not store the data of Russian users on Russian servers. About that reported Reuters.

September 2022: VKontakte out of the app store

Reuters reported Russia has complained to Apple after the company removed the Russian social media service VKontakte (VK), known as the Russian equivalent of Facebook, from its app store.

Apple had also removed the applications of the Russian state airline Aeroflot and Sberbank from its app store. Russia demanded an explanation from the company.

Earlier in the same year, Russia had blocked access to Western social media services. This included Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The bans led to an explosive demand for virtual servers in Russia.

December 2022: The Moscow office is closed

Apple decided to close its office in Moscow. About that reported the Russian media referring to anonymous real estate agents.

The technology giant had established the office shortly before the war of aggression began. The sale of Apple products was stopped soon after the war started, i.e. already 9 months before the office was closed.

January 2023: Millions in fines for Apple

According to Reuters Russian authorities accused Apple of monopolistic activity and fined the company $17.4 million. A two-month payment period was given for the fines.

According to the authorities, the company abused its position and forced application developers to use the company’s paid services in violation of competition laws.

February 2023: The fine saga continues

Apple paid the Russian government $12.1 million in fines. These were related to a dispute between the company and authorities from 2020, in which Apple was accused of unfairly allowing third-party apps to be rejected in its store.

The case is not related to the January fine case.

The background to the dispute is a complaint previously filed by the cyber security company Kaspersky Lab, according to which the Safe Kids application they developed was rejected in Apple’s operating systems. About that reported Reuters.

March 2023: Apple products will be banned

According to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, the Kremlin bans the use of Apple products by officials working on the 2024 presidential election. The reason for the ban is the Kremlin’s suspicions about the iPhone’s vulnerability to Western intelligence services.

– Smartphones should not be used in official matters due to their transparency, be it Android or iOS, Kremlin Speaker Dmitry Peskov comment.

According to Speaker Peskov, even the president Vladimir Putin does not use a smartphone. However, he uses the internet from time to time.

The change will reportedly take effect on April 1. The information comes from Kommersant’s unconfirmed Russian sources.

Smartphones are unlikely to be completely abandoned in the Russian administration. According to Kommersant The Kremlin will soon replace iPhones with another operating system. According to them, the replacement of iPhones could be the Russian Aurora OS, which is based on the Sailfish operating system developed by Finnish Jolla.