Pavel Durov, the owner of messaging service Telegram, says the Russian government is now attempting to block more than 15 million IP addresses in an attempt to enforce last week’s Moscow court ban on the encrypted service.
“For the last 24 hours Telegram has been under a ban by internet providers in Russia,” Durov wrote on his personal Telegram channel over the weekend.
“Despite the ban, we haven’t seen a significant drop in user engagement so far, since Russians tend to bypass the ban with VPNs and proxies.”
In what is becoming known in Russia as the “Battle for Telegram,” state internet censor Roskomnadzor, with the backing of the Kremlin’s Federal Security Service (FSB), is attempting to prevent the 13 million people that use the service in Russia from accessing it via proxy Amazon Web Service and Google Cloud hosting sites.
“Within the last two days, Russia blocked over 15 million IP addresses in attempts to ban Telegram on its territory. Regardless, Telegram remained available for the majority of Russia’s residents,” Durov said on Tuesday, this time via Twitter.
Durov also pledged “millions of dollars this year” to individuals and companies who “support internet freedoms in Russia and elsewhere.”
The Guardian is reporting that Telegram is widely used by Russia’s establishment and says many politicians and government officials have chosen to be critical of the ban or publicly flout it.
The saga has dragged on since June 2017 when the FSB accused Telegram of being the messenger of choice for “international terrorist organizations in Russia.” Roskomnadzor eventually banned the service on Friday after Durov instructed his lawyers to not comply with a Moscow court ruling.
Durov is not without resources. The Telegram messaging app has something like 200 million global users and he is now launching his Telegram GRAM crypto-coin, that reportedly raised $1.7 billion in start-ups funds in only a few weeks.