Apps from the Russian state-controlled tech company VK were removed from the Apple App Store.
The Russian communications regulator demanded clarification from Apple on Wednesday after applications from the Russian state-owned tech company UK were removed from the US company’s App Store.
The regulator, Roskomnadzor, is a thorn in the side of foreign tech companies, which is fined for data storage violations and for failing to remove content Russia deems illegal — disputes that have escalated since Moscow sent its military forces to Ukraine in February.
VK runs Vkontakte, which is Russia’s largest social network with over 75 million monthly users, often compared to Facebook. Along with VK’s email service Mail. ru, Vkontakte must be preinstalled on mobile devices sold in Russia.
Roskomnadzor said Apple’s actions had deprived millions of Russians of access to UK apps and demanded it explain its decision.
Apple did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
“The agency believes that such discriminatory restrictions, which violate the right of Russian internet users to freely receive and communicate information, are unacceptable,” Roskomnadzor said in a statement.
However, Russia itself has restricted its citizens’ access to information by forcing all major independent Russian media outlets to shut down and block US social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
VK tightened its grip on the Russian internet space this month by striking a deal to buy rival Yandex’s news aggregator, content platform Zen and yandex.ru homepage.
VK said on Tuesday that its apps, including Vkontakte, already installed on smartphones, will continue to work and will continue to develop and support apps for Apple’s iOS operating system.