‘I have to type in my credit card number’ Young Russians fume at losing tech comforts

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Images shared on Twitter show posts from Russian youths complaining about not being able to access services such as Apple Pay after Apple joined other tech giants in limiting its services in Russia following President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the country last Thursday.

One post read: “Since Apple turned off Apple Pay for our country I need to type my credit card number every time I want to order some munchies. I hope it’s ends soon cause it’s really annoying.”

Other Twitter users expressed their outrage that such petty concerns were being discussed when the invasion in Ukraine grew increasingly bloody, as Russia ramped up assaults on key Ukrainian cities.

The impact of the tech boycott led by a number of global brands including Apple and Google is already being felt by the Russian public.

Apple announced on Wednesday that it had paused all product sales in Russia in response to the invasion.

The tech companies also announced it would limit Apple Pay, Apple Maps and other services in Russia, including removing state-back news outlets RT and Sputnik from its App Store in countries outside Russia.

Earlier, Google announced that it had restricted news firms funded by the Russian government from advertising tools and some features on its services including YouTube.

In a statement, Apple said: “We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all of the people who are suffering as a result of the violence.

“We are supporting humanitarian efforts, providing aid for the unfolding refugee crisis, and doing all we can to support our teams in the region.

“We have taken a number of actions in response to the invasion. We have paused all product sales in Russia. Last week, we stopped all exports into our sales channel in the country. Apple Pay and other services have been limited.

“RT News and Sputnik News are no longer available for download from the App Store outside Russia.

“And we have disabled both traffic and live incidents in Apple Maps in Ukraine as a safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens.”

There are reports that mobile banking apps in Russia, such as Russia’s VTB Bank’s app, may soon seek to function fully on mobile devices that use Apple’s iOS operating system.

Apple’s statement added: “We will continue to evaluate the situation and are in communication with relevant governments on the actions we are taking.

“We join all those around the world who are calling for peace.”

The tech giant has been criticised for taking so long to make the move, which was announced nearly one week since the invasion began.

Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov published an open letter to Apple on Twitter last Friday, the day after Kremlin forces entered Ukraine, asking Apple to cut Russia off from its services and products.

Mr Fedorov Tweeted: “I’ve contacted @tim_cook, Apple’s CEO, to block the Apple Store for citizens of the Russian Federation, and to support the package of US government sanctions! If you agree to have the president-killer, then you will have to be satisfied with the only available site Russia 24.”

In the letter, Mr Fedorov said: “The whole world is repelling the aggressor through the imposition of sanctions – the enemy must suffer significant losses.

“But we need your support – in 2022, modern technology is perhaps the best answer to the tanks, multiple rocket launchers (hrad) and missiles.”

Most of Google’s services are still available in Russia. The company told the BBC they were “continuing to provide access to global information and perspectives.”

It said it would comply with all the sanctions requirements imposed on Russia by Western powers since the invasion on February 24.

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Facebook’s parent company Meta announced this weekend that it would restrict access to Russia’s state-run media outlets RT and Sputnik across the European Union in response to requests from a number of governments.

Russia has since cracked down on social media companies that the Kremlin has accused of inciting war and seeding “public mistrust” as Russian forces ramped up their bombardment of Ukraine’s cities and civilian casualties rose.

Russia reinstated a slowdown of Twitter traffic on computers on Tuesday as it stepped-up efforts to reframe the narrative around its war in Ukraine and restrict access to information while footage emerged of Russian forces targeting residential areas.

It has accused social media companies of peddling “fake news” and has partially restricted access to Facebook in response to restrictions on its state-run media outlets.

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