According to The Washington Post, which cites independent researchers and Navalny’s chief of staff Leonid Volkov, a voting software maintained by followers of famous Putin opponent Alexei Navalny is once again accessible for download on Apple’s Russian App Store. Last year, Apple and Google also withdrew the app after the Kremlin threatened to prosecute firm employees in Russia.
According to WaPo, the “Smart Voting” app features over a thousand endorsements of Russian political candidates, with the goal of assisting individuals in consolidating votes against the ruling United Russia party, which is led by Vladimir Putin. The app was forced to be removed before of Russia’s parliamentary election in September. According to the Washington Post, Google reinstated the app immediately after the election.
Apple did not react to The Verge’s request for comment, and it’s unclear why it decided to reinstate the app. In China, the corporation has also been chastised for banning protest and media applications at the behest of the authorities.
The decision to reinstate the app comes as Apple and other corporations pull back from the Russian market in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At the beginning of March, Apple said that it will suspend all product sales in Russia, while Samsung, Apple’s main competitor, has also halted shipments to the nation. Even firms wishing to sell phones in Russia have had difficulty. Last month, the Financial Times reported that Chinese smartphone makers had cut their shipments to Russia because the rouble’s depreciation has made it difficult to sell phones in the nation without losing money.
Activists claim that it is critical for western corporations to continue to distribute software in Russia because it may offer citizens with critical information and techniques to circumvent government restrictions. Similar efforts have been taken by websites to guarantee that their material is available in Russia. The BBC pushed and Twitter published versions of their sites developed for the censorship-resistant Tor browser in the aftermath of the invasion.