The popularity of the messaging application keeps growing
The Russian authorities have been trying for more than a week to block Telegram, one of the most popular messaging services in the country.
A court decision was made to block the application after its founder, Pavel Durov refused to provide information on how to decode the applications ciphers to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which would allow the agency to observe user interaction.
Durov has said on several occasions that he does not intend to cooperate with the Russian authorities and that the Telegram affair is an issue of principles.
What is Telegram, and why are Russian intelligence services concerned about it?
Before the Telegram block began, Durov said that the application would make use of built-in features to circumvent the block. He also advised people to make use of VPN (Virtual Private Network) services on their phones which may be used to access blocked content on the web.
In the first few hours of the block, many users had trouble accessing the application. However, by the evening of 16 April, access had been practically restored.
Having understood that Telegram is successfully getting around the block, the Russian authorities began to block IP addresses from which users were accessing the application.
By the evening of 17 April, about 16 million IP addresses from cloud services on Amazon and Google had been blocked. Because of this, a number of sites were blocked which did not have any relation to Telegram.
But the Telegram block has not affected its popularity, rather the opposite. On 17 April, the number of users was more than usual.
Different studies have put the number of Telegram users in Russia at somewhere between 12-17 million people.
On 17 April, Durov published a post in which he thanked Telegram users for their support. He placed special emphasis on the fact that the Russian market is important for him and his team of developers for ‘personal reasons’.
In the days following, users in Russia had no trouble accessing the application. The Russian authorities continue to block IP addresses, but do not achieve much in doing so other than blocking sites which are not involved.
For example, from 21 – 22 April, some Russian internet users were not even able to use Google web services.
As of 23 April, many Telegram users say that the application works in Russia without using any third-party programmes to get around the block.