Russian President Vladimir Putin wants less American technology in Russia. Employees of the Russian presidential administration have to start first – and hand over their devices soon.

This news is likely to hit Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hard, because he has been an Apple user for many years. According to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, all employees of the presidential administration were asked to get rid of their iPhones. “It’s over for the iPhone: either you throw it away or you give it to the children,” Kommersant quoted a participant in an internal meeting that took place recently in Moscow.

Russia thinks Apple’s iPhones are ‘vulnerable’

In principle, the same fear of espionage plays a role that also meant the end for Huawei in the USA. The newspaper reports that Russia considers Apple devices to be insecure and believes iPhones are “more vulnerable to hacking and espionage by Western experts compared to other smartphones.” So far, Russia has limited the bans on certain technologies primarily to software. For example, last summer Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko called for only domestic messengers to be used in official activities, such as Trueconf instead of Zoom.

Natalya Kasperskaya, co-founder of Kaspersky Lab and one of the richest women in Russia, also warns against hardware from other countries. She explained to “Kommersant” that end devices are only safe from espionage if they come from their own country. “In this respect,” says Kasperskaya, “the local operating system has an advantage.”

This means Aurora OS. The system is based on Linux and belongs to the Russian state company Rostelecom. So far, however, it was only intended for the government and does not support any known apps. At the beginning of March, the Russian website “Cnews” reported that Alexander Kalinin, founder of the Russian tech company NCC, wanted to build his own devices with the Russian operating system by the end of the year (Russia is said to be planning its own smartphone).

Chinese brands are already dominating

But another solution could also come from Putin’s “friend” Xi Jinping. According to a report by “CNN”, Chinese manufacturers already have a market share of 95 percent in Russia. A whopping 53 percent of this is attributable to Xiaomi.

The ban does not seem to affect the top tier of the Russian government – ​​with the exception of Lavrov. As “Reuters” reports, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained that smartphones are not in use there anyway. “Smartphones should not be used for official purposes,” Peskov told reporters. “Every smartphone has a fairly transparent mechanism, no matter what operating system it has – Android or iOS. Of course, they are not used for official purposes.”

In fact, Vladimir Putin is not known to own or use his own smartphone. This was recently confirmed by the Russian news agency “Tass”. He’s not alone in that. Other top politicians, such as Olaf Scholz, also use special crypto smartphones for business, which are expected to be particularly secure against eavesdropping.

However, the warning that Apple devices are more susceptible to hacking and espionage is new. According to the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), the Apple devices are considered to be very secure and even received approval for “governmental use by the federal authorities” without modifications.

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