Russian agents threatened Apple and Google employees over protest vote apps
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Russia's attempts to manage the activities of tech giants before the Ukraine invasion involved more clandestine maneuvers, including threats to Apple and Google employees to remove apps.
The pressure of tech giants against Russia during its invasion of Ukraine has already led to retaliation by the Russian government in various ways. However, in a Saturday report about the country's activities to manage the tech industry, it seems Russia has used old-school threats to get its way.
Executives for Apple and Google located in Moscow were threatened in person in September, concerning an app that Russian President Vladimir Putin disliked, reports the Washington Post. Agents showed up at the homes of the respective executives, with a threat to remove the app within 24 hours or face prison.
According to the report, Google swiftly transferred their executive to a hotel under an assumed name, in the belief that having guests and hotel security nearby would offer some protection. However, the agents turned up at the room with a reminder of the deadline.
It is thought by Google officials that the agents were from the FSB, a successor to the infamous KGB.
The intimidation tactics worked, as the app was pulled from Google Play and the App Store within hours. The app in question intended to help people register protest votes against Putin.
The incident is one of numerous examples of how Russia is attempting to become more authoritarian. Moves such as demanding major multinationals to open offices in the country and others could be considered ways to limit the freedom of speech in the country, ahead of the military operation in Ukraine.
Despite the in-person threats, both Apple and Google continued to operate in Russia, complying with local laws until the invasion took place.