Apple pulls apps owned by Russian tech giant VK from app store, including music service VK Music

Apps operated by Russia-based tech giant VK have been removed from Apple‘s app store globally, including VKontakte, Russia’s answer to Facebook.

As reported by Reuters, the VKontakte app, which has 75 million monthly users, is no longer available to download or update on iPhones worldwide.

VK’s apps can still be downloaded on Android phones via Google’s Play Store.

In a press release issued by VK, the tech firm says that applications that have already been pre-installed on phones will continue to work, but that “there may be difficulties” with the “notifications and payments”.

Reuters notes that in Russia, Vkontakte is required be pre-installed on mobile devices sold in the market.

VK adds in its statement that its Vkontakte application will continue to work on Apple devices and that it plans to continue developing and supporting iOS-based applications.

Reuters reports that Russia’s communications watchdog has demanded that Apple explain the reason behind the removal of the Russian firm’s apps from its App Store.

In addition to the VKontakte, The Verge reports that VK-owned music app VK Music has also been pulled by Apple, along with VK apps,  and Youla classifieds.

Citing an Apple spokesperson, The Verge reports that the apps have been removed in response to new UK sanctions on Russian-owned companies.

“These apps are being distributed by developers majority-owned or majority-controlled by one or more parties sanctioned by the UK government,” the spokesperson told The Verge.

“In order to comply with these sanctions, Apple terminated the 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 may continue to use them.”

VK launched a licensed streaming music app back in 2016. At the time, the app launched with agreements in place from Sony Music and Warner Music, and Russian publishers First Music Publisher, Soyuz and Nikitin, but not from Universal Music Group.

The launch came two years after Warner Music, Sony and Universal filed copyright a infringement lawsuit against VK over user-generated content it was allowing to be uploaded on to its service. 

In November 2021, VK launched ‘VK Music’, uniting all of the company’s music products on a single platform.

Earlier this month it was reported that Sony Music Group has completely exited its Russian operations as the war between the country and Ukraine continues.

The move arrived six months after the major music company decided to suspend its operations in Russia in response to the global condemnation against the Kremlin and its president, Vladimir Putin.

On March 10, Warner Music Group announced that it was suspending its operations there.

On March 8, Universal Music Group, the world’s largest rightsholder, suspended all operations in Russia and closed its offices in the country.

Today’s news comes five months after Apple stopped selling its physical products in Russia.Music Business Worldwide