Apple has removed the iOS apps of VK, the technology conglomerate behind Russia’s version of Facebook — VKontakte — from its App Store globally.
According to The Verge, VK said its apps “are blocked by Apple” but will “continue to develop and support iOS applications”.
In response to an inquiry by the website, Apple spokesperson Adam Dema confirmed that VK’s apps had been removed and its developer accounts shut down.
“These apps are being distributed by developers majority-owned or majority-controlled by one or more parties sanctioned by the UK government,” Dema was quoted as saying in a statement.
“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,” he added.
This week, the UK government enacted new sanctions on Russian oligarchs in response to Moscow’s recent sham referendums in parts of occupied Ukraine.
The sanctions affect 23 executives at Gazprombank, a Russian bank with ties to VK.
VK is Russia’s second-largest internet company after Yandex, the country’s own version of Google.
The social media firm was created in 2006 by Pavel Durov, who was eventually pushed out after he “refused to cooperate with the authorities”.
He now runs the popular messaging app Telegram.