Apple restores opposition app to App Store in Russia

(IANS) Tech giant Apple has reportedly resumed allowing Russians to download an app run by supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny after criticism that it was acceding to unreasonable government demands for censorship.

As reported by The Washington Post last month, law enforcement agents had repeatedly threatened the top Apple and Google officials in Russia with arrest in September unless they removed Navalny’s “Smart Voting” app, which included more than a thousand endorsements of candidates for seats in Russia’s legislature.

Those demands came as voting was about to begin, and both companies complied. Google later reinstated the app for Android phones soon after the election, while Apple did not.

And, that changed this week, according to independent researchers and Navalny’s chief of staff, Leonid Volkov.

Apple spokesmen declined to comment on the decision.The reversal comes amid escalating tensions between Russia and outside companies, many of which have withdrawn from the market or curtailed activities there since Russia invaded Ukraine, the report said.

But civil liberties groups and American officials are pushing the other way, arguing that Apple and other tech companies provide ordinary Russians with the means to find independent news sources and to connect to activists and non-profit organisations opposed to the war in Ukraine.

Apps are an especially critical form of communication in Russia now because the country’s censorship apparatus has not been able to block or modify content flowing from installed apps to users’ phones.

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