Last Friday, Tagansky District Court ordered access to internet messenger Telegram to be blocked after the company's managers repeatedly refused to hand over encryption keys to its clients' correspondence to Russia's Federal Security Service, as required under Russian data protection law.
As expected, messaging app Telegram has been formally blocked in Russian Federation after its owner refused to hand the authorities encryption keys to help with investigations.
The actions of the leadership of the company managing the Telegram messenger pose threat to Russia's interests and security of its citizens, Maria Smelyanskaya, a representative of Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, said during the hearing on the messenger blocking on Friday.
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What happens next, she said, is up to Assad and to his Russian and Iranian allies. Moscow has also tempered its tone, saying only that "there will be consequences".
On April 16, Russian network providers began to block access to Telegram at the request of Roskomnadzor. The service could be unstable without a VPN. The app, just like other messaging apps like WhatsApp, is known for its security with its encrypted messages that prevents messages from being read even if they are intercepted.
In a social media post on Russia's VKontakte, Durov said Telegram will use "built-in methods" to try and circumvent the government attempts to block the app. The ruling follows months of battles between Telegram and federal telecom watchdog Roskomnadzor.
Telegram, a free application that lets people exchange messages, stickers, photos and videos in groups of up to 5,000 people, has attracted more than 200 million users since its launch by Durov and his brother Nikolai in 2013. Telegram is especially popular among political activists, of all stripes, and is used by the Kremlin to communicate with journalists, but it has also been used by jihadists.