The diplomatic and economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues. The ordinary Russian’s access to digital resources has been a consequence of the battle, and in the aftermath of the invasion, both Apple and Google disabled access to their respective app stores, a blow to businesses and customers both.
Consumers lose access to the latest app trends and risk being left behind in the ever-changing world of technology as businesses struggle to distribute apps to the Russian audience. But Russia may have a fix for that, with plans for its own app store.
According to Reuters, Russian developers are developing “NashStore,” a Google Play Store alternative (“Our Store” in English). The service will go live on May 9, Russia’s national holiday celebrating World War II victory (WWII/WW2). The store, according to Vladimir Zykov, head of projects at Digital Platforms, is a direct result of Russian developers losing income streams due to their inability to access the Play Store.
The Kremlin’s attempt to replace app stores is most likely part of a wider (and now necessary) push to completely cut Russians away from foreign technology and services. As Reuters points out, May 9 has long been a significant holiday in Russia, with massive military parades.
NashStore’s launch on Victory Day could be part of a nationalist impulse that matches with the Russian government’s efforts to restrict information, especially its attack on online freedoms.
Unfortunately, limiting Russian access to apps vetted outside the nation might provide Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, with the perfect opportunity to build up an app store full of malware, eventually creating a genuine surveillance state.