Fearing a run on banks and shops due to a faltering currency, the authorities in Belarus have blocked several news and e-commerce websites, according to reports. The Belarusian state-controlled economy is closely linked with that of Russia, and the slide of the Russian ruble has spooked the Belarusian authorities, who introduced a 30 percent tax on foreign currency purchases. On Saturday, the authoritarian state reportedly blocked more than a dozen online stores that raised their prices or priced items in U.S. dollars, and also blocked several independent news websites without warning.
If you head to Apple’s Russian-language online store right now, you’ll find that it’s not up — and Apple’s providing the usual “We’re busy updating the Apple store” message. But Apple’s not adding new products or working behind the scenes. As first reported by Bloomberg, Apple has pulled its online store in Russia because the ruble has been severely devalued today after teetering on the brink of instability for weeks. The online Apple store only launched in Russia last year and the country has no physical Apple Stores. If you’re a hoarder in Russia, look past the traditional gold and greenbacks as stores of value — iPhones could provide a nice return.
Update 3:25 ET: The run on Apple products has started.