This content was produced in Russia, where the law
coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.
MOSCOW, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Russia's communications
regulator on Wednesday demanded an explanation from Apple
after applications operated by the Russian
state-controlled tech firm VK were removed from the
U.S. firm's App Store.
The regulator, Roskomnadzor, has been a thorn in the side of
foreign tech firms, issuing fines over data storage violations
and for failures to remove content Russia deems illegal -
disputes that have escalated since Moscow sent its armed forces
into Ukraine in February.
VK runs Vkontakte, which with over 75 million monthly users
is Russia's largest social network, often compared to Facebook.
Along with VK's email service Mail.ru, Vkontakte must be
pre-installed on mobile devices sold in Russia.
Roskomnadzor said Apple's actions had deprived millions of
Russians of access to VK apps and demanded that it explain its
Apple said it follows laws in the jurisdictions where the
company operates. Apple said the apps in question were being
distributed by developers majority-owned or majority-controlled
by one or more parties sanctioned by the UK government.
Regardless of location, the apps cannot be downloaded from
any App store, said Apple, which terminated the developer
accounts associated with the apps to comply with UK sanctions.
State-controlled VK tightened its grip on Russia's internet
space this month by finalising a deal to buy rival Yandex's
news aggregator, content platform Zen and yandex.ru
VK CEO Vladimir Kiriyenko is under UK sanctions, along with
his father Sergei Kiriyenko, who serves as President Vladimir
Putin's first deputy chief of staff.
Roskomnadzor called the restrictions "discriminatory" and
said they violated Russian internet users' right to free
information and communication.
Russia has, however, itself limited its citizens' access to
information by forcing all significant independent Russian media
to close and blocking U.S. social media platforms Facebook,
Instagram and Twitter.
VK on Tuesday said that its apps, including Vkontakte,
continued to work if already installed on smartphones, and that
it was continuing to develop and support apps for Apple's iOS
Roskomnadzor also asked Apple to explain its removal of
other apps, including those of airline Aeroflot and a
number of banks such as top lenders Sberbank and VTB
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Kevin Liffey and