Apple has taken down Russian social network VK’s app from its App Store globally. The social media company said the VKontakte app is “not available for download and update in the App Store.” However, apps that are already installed on Apple devices will continue to work, but there might be some issues with payments and notifications. Plus, users can access the social network through the mobile website.
“VK will continue to develop and support applications for iOS. Our experts do everything to maintain and continue to improve user comfort,” the company said in a blog post, but didn’t specify how these apps will be distributed without being on the App Store as Apple doesn’t allow users to sideload apps. Last year, in compliance with local laws, Apple included VK in the suggested apps section displayed while setting up an iPhone in Russia.
Apple removed the app from the App store because of the U.K.’s sanctions on Russian companies.
“These apps are being distributed by developers majority-owned or majority-controlled by one or more parties sanctioned by the UK government, 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,” an Apple spokesperson told The Verge. We have reached out to the company for more details.
The VK app is still available on the Google Play Store. TechCrunch has asked Google if it plans to remove those apps.
Earlier this week, the U.K. imposed 92 sanctions on Russia for imposing “sham referendums” in four regions of Ukraine. These sanctions included executives from Gazprombank, which has links to entities controlling VK.
In response to Apple’s removal of VK’s app, The Russian Digital ministry told state-owned media house RT that it has asked Apple for the reason for the takedown. They also warned they have an unspecified “plan of action” based on the response. Notably, Apple removed apps of RT and Sputnik media outlets from the App Store in March.