A voting app operated by supporters of prominent Putin critic Alexei Navalny is again available for download in Apple’s Russian App Store. The Washington Post reports, citing independent researchers and Navalny’s stable boss Leonid Volkov. Both Apple and Google have removed the app last year after the Kremlin threatened to prosecute employees of the company in the country.
The “Smart Voting” app contains over a thousand recommendations of Russian political candidates, WaPo notes, with the idea of helping citizens rally votes against the ruling United Russia party, of which Vladimir Putin is the de facto leader. The pressure to remove the app came ahead of Russia’s parliamentary elections in September. WaPo reports that Google restored the app shortly after the election.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment from The edge, and it’s unclear what exactly caused the app to be restored. The company has also been criticized for this Remove Protest and media apps in China at the request of the government.
The decision to restore the app comes as Apple and other companies pulled back from the Russian market following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Apple said it was Suspension of all product sales in Russia Early March, while main competitor Samsung has also halted shipments to the country. But companies that want to sell phones in Russia also have problems. The Financial Times reported Last month, Chinese smartphone makers cut shipments to Russia as the ruble’s depreciation has made it difficult to sell phones in the country without making a loss.
Activists have argued that it is important for Western companies to continue allowing software distribution in Russia, as this can provide the country’s citizens with important information and opportunities to circumvent state censorship. Sites have made similar attempts to ensure their content is still available in Russia. After the invasion, the Promoted to BBC and Twitter started Versions of their websites designed for the censorship-resistant Tor browser.
https://www.theverge.com/2022/4/7/23014486/apple-russia-smart-voting-app-store-navalny Apple is bringing the Putin opposition app back to the Russian App Store