In 2021, Apple and Google removed the “smart voting” app after the Kremlin threatened to criminally prosecute company employees in Russia. However, a voting app run by supporters of prominent Putin critic Alexei Navalny is once again available on Apple’s Russian App Store.
The app that angered Russian authorities contains more than a thousand endorsements of Russian political candidates. The purpose of the “smart voting” app is to help citizens consolidate votes against the ruling United Russia party. Russia’s longtime leader Vladimir Putin is United Russia’s de facto leader.
Pressure to remove the “smart voting” app came ahead of the country’s legislative election in September. Google restored the “smart voting” app shortly after the election.
It is hard to pinpoint one specific reason that played a crucial role in Apple’s decision to restore “Smart Voting”.
The decision to restore the app comes as the tech giant and others have taken steps away from Russia.
Last month, Apple paused sales of its physical products in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Apple’s main competitor Samsung also stopped shipments to the country.
Apart from smartphones, the company’s decision also covers chips, etc. The South Korean tech giant actively supports humanitarian efforts in the region.
However, even companies that want to sell phones in Russia have struggled. In March, Chinese smartphone vendors slashed their shipments to the country, as the collapse in the value of the Russian currency made it hard to sell phones in Russia without making a loss.
Western companies should not abandon the Russian people. They have the ability to help them. Activists argued that it is important for Western companies to continue to allow the software to be distributed in Russia because it can provide Russians with important information.
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