Some Russian officials were advised by the Kremlin to ditch their Apple iPhones by the end of March because of information-security concerns, according to a report by Kommersant.
The directive took place during a seminar in the Moscow region earlier this month, according to the Russian newspaper, which cited sources present at the meeting.
Officials were told to replace their iPhones with phones built on other smartphone software, such as Android, Chinese counterparts, or Aurora, an operating system developed by the Russian company Open Mobile Platform, the publication reported.
“It’s all over for the iPhone: either throw it away or give it to the children,” one person who attended the seminar told Kommersant, according to a Reuters translation of the quote.
Sergei Kiriyenko, the first deputy head of Russia’s presidential administration, was said to have told the officials that they had to replace their iPhones by April 1.
The reported instruction comes amid undergoing campaign preparations for the upcoming 2024 Russian presidential election. Apple had previously banned imports to Russia, shortly after the country invaded Ukraine last year.
Last year, Apple stopped product sales to Russia a week after the country invaded Ukraine. But a few months later, reports surfaced that people in Russia were still purchasing the new iPhone 14 through legalized parallel-imports programs. A few months after the war began, Russia had reportedly legalized these import programs — systems that allowed sellers to ship products into the country without the trademark owner’s permission.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Although those within the Russian presidential administration were said to have been told to get rid of their Apple iPhones, it’s unclear whether all Russian government officials were advised to do so.
The Embassy of the Russian Federation in the US did not immediately respond to a request for comment ahead of publication. However, the Kremlin press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that “smartphones should not be used for official business,” Reuters reported.
“Any smartphone has a fairly transparent mechanism, no matter what operating system it has – Android or iOS,” he said, according to Reuters. “Naturally, they are not used for official purposes.”