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An iPhone Monument Is Dismantled in Russia After Tim Cook's Coming Out

Images shared anonymously online.

St. Petersburg's Steve Jobs monument is dismantled. (Images shared anonymously online.)

The six-and-a-half-foot iPhone outside the St. Petersburg National Research University—a monument to the late Steve Jobs—is dismantled and gone. The business news portal BFM.ru claims that the owner of the statue, the West European Financial Union (ZEFS), had the oversized iPhone removed in response to Apple CEO Tim Cook's coming out last week.

According to BFM.ru, ZEFS worries that the iPhone monument, following Cook's announcement that he is gay, violated Russia's laws against “homosexual propaganda [sic].” BFM.ru also says ZEFS took down its giant iPhone in protest against Apple's alleged cooperation with the National Security Agency in the United States. The statue's creators were “taken in” by the “legend of a genius programmer,” ZEFS reportedly said, but that story turned out to be a “smokescreen” for American spying.

Russians, who spent roughly $1 billion last year on iPhones, have reacted strongly to the news out of St. Petersburg today. 

Opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who's spent the better part of the year under house arrest, denounced the act of homophobia:

Jesus, what scumbags: In Petersburg, after Tim Cook's announcement, a monument to Steve Jobs is dismantled.

Navalny's political ally, Vladimir Ashurkov (who's now in self-exile in London, avoiding likely criminal charges in Russia), echoed Navalny's sentiment:

How quick the brain goes numb. [News report]: In Petersburg, after Tim Cook's announcement, a monument to Steve Jobs is dismantled.

Brains were a common theme in many of the tweets criticizing the removal of the iPhone statue:

They've dismantled an iPhone monument in St. Petersburg. Not long before this, those responsible also dismantled their own brains.

Russia's only independent television station, the liberal-leaning TV Rain, joked on Twitter about the different directions Russia and Ukraine seem to be heading—where Ukrainians topple old statues of Lenin and Russians pull down a monument to Steve Jobs. The TV network even juxtaposed photographs of the iPhone's removal to images from Kharkov in September earlier this year, where a local mob demolished a Lenin monument.

In Petersburg, an iPhone monument has been dismantled. The Americans are guilty—Cook and Snowden. [Ukraine vs. Russia]

Not everyone is a fan of TV Rain's joke. Blogger XS_71 implies that comparing Lenin to the iPhone reveals a certain cultural or intellectual deficiency in Russian liberals:

The iPhone monument is for kreakls [the creative class] what the Lenin monument was in Kharkov. Yeah…

Other Russians on Twitter have wondered why a monument to Steve Jobs is being singled out, when there are other targets in St. Petersburg far riper for homophobic attacks, namely the statues and streets dedicated to composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Twitter's fake Russian Defense Ministry account got in on the fun:

They've taken down a monument to Jobs. [But] we don't understand how [anti-gay city councilman Vitaly] Milonov is able to be at peace with St. Petersburg's statue to Tchaikovsky and street to Tchaikovsky!

The immensely popular Josef Stalin Twitter parody account also weighed in:

“In Petersburg, after Tim Cook's announcement that he's gay, a monument to Steve Jobs has been taken down.” Pete, Pete… I never expected this kind of fuckery from you.

Following the public backlash to the dismantling of the iPhone monument, St. Petersburg National Research University denied the story originally reported in BFM.ru, telling reporters at the state-run TASS news agency that the statue is only being removed temporarily, for repairs. The plans predate Cook's announcement that he is gay, the university says. The statue's disappearance, in other words, has nothing to do with Tim Cook being gay or Edward Snowden revealing America's spy empire.

Of course, some on the RuNet suspect that the monument was indeed removed for the reasons initially reported. The public reaction, says this theory, forced the authorities to backtrack and invent a new version of events.

They couldn't handle the worldwide fame, and they [those who removed the statue] were given a way out.

  • Visitor

    I think it was a preventive measure to avoid some embarrassing situations. Indeed, imagine a hard-core patriot like Mr Dugin breaking his head against this monument while yelling: Solar Poo-Tin rules!

  • John H Newcomb

    Hmmm…Medvedev’s elevator selfie with his iPhone..what was he REALLY doing?

    • Ivan Night Terrible

      Famous сrypto gay

  • Ivan Night Terrible

    Not gomofobia! Smelly stealing personal information and new political reality.
    This is protest against Apple’s alleged cooperation with the National Security
    Agency in the United States.
    “The revelations of a former employee of the National Security Agency, USA
    Edward Snowden, according to which Apple products transmits data about
    its users to the American secret services.”
    President of the Russian company that put the thing up, told Biznews-FM
    that he had no idea when he paid for it that the story of Apple’s
    success was actually, in his words, “a smokescreen for a special
    operation, the NSA of the USA.”

    • John H Newcomb

      Global Voices’ story right now on Chinese hackers stealing iCloud user info makes for an interesting coincidence: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/11/03/apples-china-experience-sours-as-state-hackers-target-icloud-data/

      • Ivan Night Terrible

        Do not believe the American media.
        Check any concrete information in international sources

        • John H Newcomb

          If press freedom is any indication of objectivity of sources, systemic bias, or censorship, Russia’s press freedom ranking is only #148, while US ranks #46 so of the two, US media might be more “believable” than Russian: http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php
          – However, Chinese hackers story is by Hong-Kong based Oiwan Lam, and Global Voices itself is based in Netherlands.

          • Ivan Night Terrible

            Do not believe the American media!
            Example in topic.
            Realy reason was “Safety and Privacy”!
            American media write… “gomofobia” :)))

          • John H Newcomb

            But American media just repeated claim by Russian news source bfm.ru that reports that Apple monument removed because Russian homophobia propaganda law and in addition, Snowden alleging that Apple transmits data to US security services.: http://www.bfm.ru/news/277859
            Washington Post story included claim of homophobia, of Snowden’s allegations and of denial by TASS:
            http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/11/03/russian-monument-to-steve-jobs-taken-down-after-apple-ceo-cook-says-he-is-gay/

          • Ivan Night Terrible

            …разоблачения бывшего сотрудника Агентства национальной безопасности
            США Эдварда Сноудена, утверждавшего, что продукция Apple передает данные
            своих владельцев американским спецслужбам.
            Комментируя демонтаж
            двухметрового iPhone, Долгополов заявил, что не исключает его повторной
            установки при условии, что с гигантского аппарата можно будет послать
            сообщение в США об отказе от аппаратов Apple. Глава компании призвал
            пользователей «яблочной» техники перейти на продукцию других фирм, не
            замеченных в слежке за пользователями.
            Руководитель ЗЕФС также заявил, что, устанавливая iPhone
            в память о скончавшемся Стиве Джобсе в 2013 году, инициаторы «купились»
            на легенду о гениальном программисте, создавшем компанию, но не
            подозревали о том, что история успеха Apple была «ширмой для
            спецоперации АНБ США». Долгополов утверждает, что западные партнеры
            поддерживают его поступок, поскольку «агрессивная политика США и их
            спецслужб вызывают недовольство во всем мире». (с)

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