Launch of the national application store “RuStore” in Russia

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russian internet group CV launched an in-house app store on Wednesday, the latest in a Kremlin-sanctioned campaign to create a series of national digital services to replace Western rivals.

VK, often nicknamed “Russia‘s Facebook,” said a beta version of the store, named RuStorewould be available for android users from Wednesday.

Apple and AlphabetGoogle, the world’s two largest app stores, has restricted access to Russian users in response to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

The Kremlin is pushing for the rapid development of national digital alternatives and has accelerated its years-long campaign to exert control over the online space, limiting access to Instagram and Facebook from Meta, Twitter and the news platform from Google.

VK, which is part-owned by Gazprom Media and owns a host of online services ranging from social media platforms to food delivery, has emerged as a leader in the race to replace Western services.

RuStore was created with the support of Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Media, as well as Russian tech company Yandex, the country’s largest lender Sberbank, and cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab.

“Creating a Russian app store is an essential task, dictated by market conditions,” Maksut Shadaev, minister of communications and media, said in a statement announcing the launch.

VK said more than 100 apps were available on the store at launch, including some government services, and more were added every day.

“I’m sure RuStore will be in high demand from users and developers. It has everything it needs to become Russia’s biggest app store,” said VK CEO Vladimir Kiriyenko.

Faced with an exodus of IT specialists in the first weeks of what Russia calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, the Russian government has promised tax breaks and preferential loans to tech companies, as well as a postponement of the military service for employees, with the aim of keeping them in Russia.

Politicians are also encouraging users to switch to domestic providers.

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