Apple App Store attracts Russian social network VKontakte

Apple on Wednesday confirmed it had removed popular Russian social network VKontakte from its app store worldwide due to sanctions imposed by the UK.

The British government on Monday sanctioned 92 Russian individuals and entities after President Vladimir Putin’s regime held referenda in Moscow-controlled areas of Ukraine – denounced as a “sham” by Kyiv and its allies – and stepped up threats against the West.

“Mock referees held with gun barrels cannot be free or fair and we will never honor their results,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

The sanctions target “those behind these bogus votes, as well as those who continue to support the Russian regime’s war of aggression,” he said.

San Petersburg-based tech company VK said in a blog post that some of its apps are no longer available on the App Store, which serves as the sole gateway for content on Apple mobile devices.

VK apps are used for messaging, digital payments and grocery shopping, as well as social networking.

The VK apps removed from the App Store were distributed by developers controlled or majority-owned by parties sanctioned by the UK government, and Apple is complying with the law, according to the Silicon Valley tech giant .

Apple said it has terminated developer accounts associated with the apps that aren’t available on the App Store, regardless of users’ location.

People who already have the apps installed on devices can still use them, but updates will no longer be provided through the App Store, according to Apple and VK.

“Their core functionality will be familiar and stable,” VKontakte parent VK said of the apps.

“There may be difficulties in the work of notifications and payments.”