Kremlin tells officials to stop using iPhones - Kommersant newspaper

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[March 20, 2023]  MOSCOW (Reuters) -The Kremlin told officials involved in preparations for Russia's 2024 presidential election to stop using Apple iPhones because of concerns that the devices are vulnerable to Western intelligence agencies, the Kommersant newspaper reported.

Russia's First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Office Sergei Kiriyenko attends a meeting in Krasnogorsk outside Moscow, Russia January 30, 2020. Picture taken January 30, 2020. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

At a Kremlin-organised seminar for officials involved in domestic politics, Sergei Kiriyenko, first deputy head of the presidential administration, told officials to change their phones by April 1, Kommersant said, citing unidentified sources.

"It's all over for the iPhone: either throw it away or give it to the children," Kommersant quoted one of the participants of the meeting as saying. "Everyone will have to do it in March."

When asked about the issue on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he could not confirm the report.

"Smartphones should not be used for official business," Peskov told reporters. "Any smartphone has a fairly transparent mechanism, no matter what operating system it has Android or iOS. Naturally, they are not used for official purposes."

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Kremlin may provide other devices with different operating systems to replace the iPhones, Kommersant said, adding that the order to cease using iPhones had been directed at those involved in domestic politics - for which Kiriyenko is responsible.

President Vladimir Putin has always said he has no smartphone, though Peskov has said Putin does use the Internet from time to time.

Shortly after Russia sent its troops into Ukraine last year, U.S. and British spies claimed a scoop by uncovering - and going public with - intelligence that Putin was planning to invade. It is unclear how the spies obtained such intelligence.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Gareth Jones)

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