Russian court rules to block Telegram
MOSCOW – Agence France-Presse
A Moscow court on April 13 ruled to block the popular messaging app Telegram in Russia, after it refused to give state security services access to private conversations.
The ruling follows a long-running battle between authorities and Telegram, which has a reputation for secure communications, as Moscow pushes to increase surveillance of internet activities.
The Roskomnadzor telecoms watchdog, which brought the case, had earlier demanded the service be blocked as soon as the verdict was announced.
The app’s creator Pavel Durov banned lawyers representing Telegram from attending the court hearing so as not to legitimize it.
But Pavel Chikov, who leads a group of human rights lawyers representing the app, said the case had proved the efficacy of the service.
That authorities had brought the case showed that “Telegram is by far the safest messenger,” he said in comments published on the platform.
The authorities also pushed “hundreds of thousands of Russian users to study proxies and VPNs” in an attempt to circumnavigate a potential ban, he said.
Both Chikov and app founder Durov have previously said any ban would be impossible to enforce.
“[The case] has shown again and again that the judicial system simply serves the interests of power and no longer cares about keeping up even the most basic of appearances,” the lawyer added.
Telegram’s self-exiled Russian founder Durov has long said he will reject any attempt by the country security’s services to gain backdoor access to the app.