Apple Removes VPN Apps from Russian App Store Amid Government Pressure

Russian VPN Apps

Jul 08, 2024NewsroomPrivacy / Internet Censorship

Apple removed a number of virtual private network (VPN) apps in Russia from its App Store on July 4, 2024, following a request by Russia’s state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, Russian news media reported.

This includes the mobile apps of 25 VPN service providers, including ProtonVPN, Red Shield VPN, NordVPN and Le VPN, according to MediaZona. It’s worth noting that NordVPN previously shut down all its Russian servers in March 2019.

“Apple’s actions, motivated by a desire to retain revenue from the Russian market, actively support an authoritarian regime,” Red Shield VPN said in a statement. “This is not just reckless but a crime against civil society.”


In a similar notice, Le VPN said the takedown was carried out in accordance with No. 7 of Article 15.1 of the Federal Law dated July 27, 2006, No. 149-FZ “On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection” and that its app was removed even before it received the official notice from the watchdog.

To that end, the VPN services have been included in the “Unified register” of internet resources prohibited for public distribution in Russia.

“This event marks a significant step in Roskomnadzor’s ongoing efforts to control internet access and content within Russian territory,” it said.

To counter the widespread crackdown, Le VPN has since launched an alternative service called Le VPN Give that it says “allows you to connect to our secret servers using third-party open-source software and obfuscated VPN connections.”

The development is part of a series of censorship moves Kremlin has announced since the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war in February 2022 that has resulted in the blockade of several media outlets as well as social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and X.

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