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Russia is preparing for its upcoming presidential election in 2024, and one of the measures it’s taking is to tighten security. As part of this effort, officials have been told to stop using iPhones due to concerns that they may have been hacked by foreign spies.
According to a report by the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Sergei Kiriyenko, the first deputy head of the presidential administration, informed domestic political officials at a government seminar that they would need to switch to different phones by April 1. One unnamed participant allegedly said, “It’s all over for the iPhone: either throw it away or give it to the children. Everyone will have to do it in March”.
While a Kremlin spokesman couldn’t confirm the report, he did say that smartphones should not be used for official business. “Any smartphone has a fairly transparent mechanism, no matter what operating system it has – Android or iOS. Naturally, they are not used for official purposes”, said spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
To help with the transition, the Russian government is expected to issue other smartphones. It’s important to note that the order only applies to officials working in domestic politics, and it may not affect those working in other areas of government.
This isn’t the first time that Apple has been linked to claims of interference in Russian politics. In 2021, Russian watchdog group Roskomnadzor demanded that Apple and Google remove an app by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, claiming that it was promoting an “extremist organization”. Apple later restored the app.
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In March 2022, it was alleged that Russian agents used old-school threats to demand the removal of a protest vote app, including visits to executive homes and a threat of prison.
As we move closer to the 2024 presidential election in Russia, it’s clear that security concerns are at an all-time high. The decision to ban iPhones among officials is just one of the many measures being taken to ensure a fair and secure election.