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Kremlin staff banned from using iPhones, Kommersant reports

Image: Dmitry Astakhov / AFP / Getty Images

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Employees of the Russian presidential administration's domestic political bloc have been banned from using iPhones, reported Kommersant, citing officials present at an event during which the order was issued. According to the officials, they have to get rid of their smartphones by April 1 – a deadline personally set by Sergei Kirienko, first deputy head of Vladimir Putin’s administration.

“The iPhone is done. [We have to] either throw them away or give them to [our] children. Everyone will have to do it in March,” said one of the newspaper's sources.

The move was explained by security considerations: iPhones are allegedly easier to hack and may be used by Western intelligence agencies. The Kremlin is advising its employees to replace their US-designed Apple products with smartphones on the Android operating system, its Chinese counterparts, or the Russian Aurora OS, which was developed by a subsidiary of Rostelecom.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov could not confirm that the presidential administration staff had been ordered to get rid of their iPhones, according to a report from the RBC business daily. However, Peskov did add that all smartphones were banned for official purposes.

In June 2022, Kommersant reported that Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko instructed Maksut Shadaev, head of Russia’s Ministry of Communications, to instruct regional governors to only use Russian messaging apps. Russian officials were subsequently advised to stop using Zoom in favor of the domestic Trueconf.

On March 1, 2023, a newly adopted law banned government organizations in Russia from using foreign messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Microsoft Teams.

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