Amid concerns over Apple iPhones’ alleged vulnerability to data leaks and Western intelligence agencies, the Kremlin reportedly instructed officials involved in preparations for the country’s 2024 presidential election to stop using the popular smartphones.
Sergei Kiriyenko, first deputy head of the presidential administration, told officials during a Kremlin-organized seminar that they must replace their iPhones by April 1. Kommersant, a Russian daily newspaper, claimed one participant who attended the workshop said it was “all over for the iPhone” and “everyone will have to do it in March,” per Reuters.
The mandate, which was handed out during a conference held for officials involved in domestic politics, involves only government officials who are active in domestic politics, a division Kiriyenko is in charge of.
The order to stop using iPhones was issued amid worries about the security of electronic communications, particularly in light of reports that U.S. and British intelligence agencies had uncovered evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin was preparing to invade Ukraine soon after Russia sent troops there. It is unknown how authorities obtained intelligence about the invasion.
Devices that use different operating systems might be provided to officials by the Kremlin, although Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov cautioned against using the advanced technology all together.
Peskov, who declined to confirm the report, chose instead to emphasize that smartphones — regardless of the operating system they employ — should not be used for any official business.
“Any smartphone has a fairly transparent mechanism, no matter what operating system it has—Android or iOS,” Peskov told reporters per Reuters. “Naturally, they are not used for official purposes.”
Peskov stated in 2018 that Putin does not use a phone because of the potential exposure to a data leak. Peskov added in 2020 that, “As far as I know, [Putin] does not have a phone,” per Business Today. Peskov did say that Putin occasionally uses the internet, as reported by Reuters.