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Russian Federation blocks Telegram Messenger

Russian Federation blocks Telegram Messenger

Russian news agency Tass reports that the messaging service will be blocked immediately following the latest court ruling, and the ban will be in place until Telegram provides decryption keys to the FSB.

Roskomnadzor has launched the blocking procedure for Telegram in Russian Federation.

The blocking of Telegram messenger service in Russian Federation may take several hours, Russia's telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor head Alexander Zharov told Interfax on Monday. Russia's state telecommunications regulator said on Monday it had begun blocking access to Telegram after the company refused to comply with an order to give state security access to its users' secret messages.

Telegram's founder and CEO, Pavel Durov, was a pioneer of social media in Russian Federation but left the country in 2014.

Writing on Vkontakte, the social media platform Durov founded that is now under state control, he said the decision harms Russia's national security as users will switch to WhatsApp and Facebook which are "controlled from the U.S.".

Читайте также: Russia: Syria chemical attack 'fabrication' by foreign power

A recent demand by Russian security agency the FSB to help Telegram decrypt messages linked to six phone numbers went unanswered by the firm.

It has been called the "app of choice for many Isis, pro-Isis and other jihadi and terrorist elements" by Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which tracks terrorists' online communications, due to the strong level of encryption it deploys.

"Even though only a miniscule proportion of Telegrams 200 million or so users would ever dream of doing anything wrong, let alone committing terrorist atrocities, the Russian government has successfully trampled what appears to be a constitutional right to privacy and free speech for its citizens by blocking the app". Reportedly, government officials access the app via a VPN - a technique commonly used in Russian Federation to circumvent internet restrictions - to communicate with the media and coordinate timing for conference calls.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English.

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