Apple has removed from the App Store all iOS apps belonging to Russian tech conglomerate VK, a move Apple says is a response to the latest round of UK sanctions against Russian oligarchs.

vk logo

“These apps are being distributed by developers that are majority-owned or majority-controlled by one or more parties sanctioned by the UK government,” Apple spokesman Adam Dema said in a statement provided to The Verge. “To comply with these sanctions, Apple has terminated 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 can continue to use them.”

The British government on Monday adopted a new package of sanctions affecting dozens of executives at Gazprombank, a Russian bank with ties to VK. The sanctions were in response to fake referendums that Russian authorities have recently staged in occupied territories of Ukraine.

The Russian Ministry of Digital Affairs told state media RT that it investigated “the reasons for deleting VK applications and developer accounts, which emphasized the social importance and extent of the use of the services provided by the Russian company.” Meanwhile, VK told the Russian news media Interfax that apps may continue to function, but that there may be problems with notifications and payments.

VK, or VKontakte, is a social media app created in 2006 by Pavel Durov, who also founded and still runs Telegram. Durov was dismissed as CEO of VK in April 2014 after he allegedly refused to hand over users’ personal information to the Russian Federal Security Service.

Apple’s removal of apps from its ‌App Store‌ means that users will no longer have access to the app for social media network VK, the fourth most popular website in Russia, as well as Mail.ru and VK Music. The apps were included in a list that Apple was legally required to show new iPhone owners in Russia for download during initial setup until Apple stopped selling its products in the country.

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