Putin opposition app returns to the App Store in Russia


Putin opposition app returns to the App Store in Russia
The Smart Voting app was removed ahead of Russia's election last September.
Photo: Imad Alassiry/Unsplash

Smart Voting, an app run by supporters of jailed Putin critic Alexei Navalny, has returned to the App Store in Russia following its removal last September.

Cupertino pulled the app after Russia made threats about prosecuting top Apple employees in the country. Google, which also removed the app after the Kemlin lashed out, allowed the app back into the Play Store soon after Russia’s election last year.

Apple reinstates app that opposes Putin

Smart Voting contains more than a thousand endorsements of Russian political candidates and was designed to help consolidate votes from Russian citizens against the ruling United Russia party, led by President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin obviously wasn’t happy that it could be downloaded on iPhone and Android devices ahead of Russia’s legislative election last September. So it pressured Apple and Google to remove it — which they did.

Google reinstated Smart Voting soon after the election. When Apple didn’t, the company faced criticism from those who accused Cupertino of capitulating to unreasonable government demands. That changed this week.

Smart Voting returns to the App Store

The Washington Post, citing independent researchers and Navalny’s chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, reports that Smart Voting is now available to download from the App Store once again.

It remains unclear why Apple brought back the app But the move comes amid growing tensions between Russia and international companies that pulled out of the country following Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Apple, like Google and a long list of others, closed stores and stopped selling products in Russia soon after the invasion. Most of Apple’s services remain intact for now, although some went dark.

Apple declined to comment on the decision to reinstate the Smart Voting app, the Post said.

Kremlin not happy with Apple

The moves further disgruntled the Kremlin, which previously threatened to seize assets owned by international companies. But even those that continue to operate in Russia have been forced to cut shipments as orders fall significantly.

That’s largely due to the fact that the value of the Russian ruble crashed following the imposition of Western sanctions, forcing some companies to hike prices substantially or sell goods at a loss. However, the ruble began bouncing back in recent days.


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