Russians Plan to Launch Alternative to Google Play Store on Victory Day

Russian tech developers are building an alternative to Alphabet’s Google Play store and plan to launch it on May 9, a national holiday in Russia that celebrates victory in World War Two, the organisation behind the initiative said on Tuesday.

YouTube and Google Play this month suspended all payment-based services in Russia, including subscriptions, as Western sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine started to pose banking challenges in the country.

“Unfortunately, Russians can no longer normally use Google Play to buy apps and developers have lost their source of income,” said Vladimir Zykov, director of projects at Digital Platforms, an organisation focused on digital development.

“This is why we have created a Russian app shop, NashStore,” Zykov said in a statement.

NashStore, which translates into English as “OurStore”, will serve Android mobile devices and should ultimately be compatible with Russian Mir bank cards, the statement said.

Russia traditionally holds a patriotic display of raw military power on May 9 with a parade that passes through Moscow’s Red Square commemorating the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two.

Earlier this month, Google said it had blocked mobile apps connected to RT and Sputnik from its Play store, in line with an earlier move to remove the Russian state publishers from its news-related features. Last week, Russia’s communications regulator blocked news aggregator service Google News in the country, accusing it of allowing access to what it calls fake material about the country’s military operation in Ukraine, according to news agency Interfax.

A number of tech companies have limited distribution and advertising tools to Russian news outlets over the past month as the European Commission readies a ban on them out of concern that they are spreading misinformation about the war in Ukraine.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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