Russian officials involved in the country’s 2024 presidential election have been told they are not allowed to use iPhones due to the reported risk of interference from Western intelligence.
National daily newspaper on politics and business, Kommersant (opens in a new tab)said officials have until April 1 to find alternative devices.
The news came from Sergei Kiriyenko, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration, who made the announcement at a government-organized seminar.
iPhones banned for Russian officials
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained that “smartphones should not be used for official business”, pointing out that the lack of trust in the country is not specific to Apple, adding: “every smartphone has a fairly transparent mechanism.”
Moscow Times (opens in a new tab) informs that the announcement was the “last word” of discussions that had been going on for several weeks.
A source familiar with the decision told Kommersant that the Kremlin may even offer to purchase alternative devices for affected iPhone users to ease the shift away from American technology.
The Kremlin then advised iPhone users to replace them with Android devices, although even these may one day be banned as the country transitions to Chinese and Russian devices.
Many expect it to be the precursor to a larger move towards Aurora, a Linux-based mobile operating system developed by a subsidiary of Russian telecommunications giant Rostelecom, the Open Mobile Platform (though it is derived from a Finnish operating system).
However, political scientist Nikolai Mironov sees no political incentive to decide to ban iPhones from officials, citing a “purely pragmatic solution” and “no massive rejection of ‘unfriendly’ brands.”
The country has already tried to ban other Western technologies such as video conferencing platform Zoom, from official use in favor of domestic alternatives, and while the sanctions may have initially sent tremors across the country, the Kremlin is clearly adapting and overcoming many of the recent challenges it has faced.