App StoreSource: iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple has returned the opposition voting app of Alexei Navalny to its App Store in Russia.
  • The app had previously been removed at the behest of the Russian government.
  • It was created to help citizens vote tactically against Putin's United Russia party, but now serves as an outlet for the imprisoned opposition leader.

Apple appears to have restored a controversial tactical voting app created by Russia's opposition leader Alexei Navalny, despite demands from the Kremlin that saw it removed last year.

According to The Washington Post:

Apple has resumed allowing Russians to download an app run by supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny after criticism that it was acceding to unreasonable government demands for censorship.

Last year the Kremlin demanded that Apple remove the app, which was created by the opposition in Russia to help people vote tactically against the ruling party of Vladimir Putin to try and undermine his authority. A report last month revealed that FSB agents may have been involved in threatening representatives of both Apple and Google in the country in order to have the Smart Voting app removed. Now, it appears Apple has restored the app without explanation.

Alexei Navalny slammed Apple's role in removing the app from stores in Russia as cowardice at the time. Navalny is currently in prison, recently having been sentenced to nine years in a maximum security penal colony on top of a further sentence he was already serving.

More recently, Navalny's app had been used to voice opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has seen companies including Apple withdraw their business operations in Russia in protest.

Apps can still be downloaded by iPhone users in Russia, however App Store purchases have been turned off in the country, as has support for banks using Apple Pay because of various sanctions. While Apple has not offered any comment or explanation for restoring the Smart Voting app, the move is certainly a major show of defiance against the Russian government.