Russian agents would target google and Apple employees based in the country with a prison sentence.
Agents apparently appeared on the doorstep of a Google executive’s Moscow home and demanded that he remove an app from his Google Play Store at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin, The Washington Post reported.
An Apple representative in Moscow faced similar threats, sources told the Post.
Many major US-based US tech companies have taken disciplinary action against Russia since Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Google said Thursday it was now suspending the “vast majority” of business activity in Russia after announcing last week that Google ads would be suspended in the country. Russians can no longer register Google Clouduse Google’s payment services or monetize YouTube channels from views originating in the country.
Apple has taken steps to limit its payment service and suspended all product sales in Russia last week. Queues for the Moscow Metro were reportedly blocked as Russians could no longer use Apple Pay to sneak into stations.
Other US tech companies, including Microsoft and IMB, as well as US credit card companies, have suspended operations in Russia.
Meanwhile, Putin has blocked Russians’ access to US social media companies Twitter and Meta, which own Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. He also effectively shut down the majority of news outlets and independent journalists in Russia in an effort to control the narrative surrounding his invasion of Ukraine.
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Putin also implemented legislation popularly referred to as the “Hostage Law” in 2021, essentially forcing foreign tech companies to keep employees at a corporate headquarters in Russia in order to do business there.
Relations between the Russian government and US tech companies have become increasingly strained over the past two years.
Last year, Apple and Google took down an app called Smart Voting, which organized opposition to Putin, ahead of the September election after initially refusing to do so. The companies faced similar pressure and threats from the Russian government to remove the app, according to The Financial Times.
Humanitarians and critics of Putin condemned the move. The Russian leader then imprisoned opposition leader and app creator Alexei Navalny in February 2021. Navalny was poisoned in 2020 and narrowly escaped death.
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Google and Apple say they respect the laws of the foreign countries in which they operate. They also condemned human rights violations around the world.
The companies did not immediately respond to inquiries about the Post’s report.
Paul Best of FOX Business and Associated Press contributed to this report.