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Russia's Censor Suddenly Wants to Know More About Channels on Telegram

Categories: Censorship, Regulation, Tech & Tools, Tech Industry, Russia, Eastern & Central Europe

A friendly sit-down with “Roskomnadzor-chan,” unofficial anime mascot for Russia's federal censor. Image edited by Kevin Rothrock.

With help from a Putin-launched political movement, Russia's federal censor, Roskomnadzor, met on Tuesday behind closed doors with the authors of several popular Telegram channels, according to the website TJournal [2], and it's unclear what they talked about.

The woman responsible for putting together today’s informal meeting was reportedly Yulia Zagitova, head media liaison for the All-Russia People's Front, a movement created by Vladimir Putin in 2011 to supplement and sometimes correct the work of United Russia, the country’s dominant political party.

One of the first people to share any details about the meeting was blogger and IT expert Vladislav Zdolnikov, a prominent critic of Roskomnadzor. Zdolnikov wrote on his own Telegram channel [3] that “freeloading” bureaucrats are trying to learn more about the service in order to find new content to ban, all simply to justify their agency’s existence.

“I’ll never stop reminding people that Roskomnadzor is a useless and pointless organization, staffed with nothing but assholes,” Zdolnikov explained colorfully.

According to TJournal, Zagitova also invited reporters from several pro-Kremlin media outlets to the meeting between censors and Telegram channel authors. According to Vadim Ampelonsky, Roskomnadzor’s spokesman, the names of the Telegram channel authors who attended the meeting aren’t being revealed, in order to “avoid aggressive trolling.”

For the past year, Russian bloggers have increasingly turned to channels on Telegram, an instant messaging service designed and funded by Pavel Durov, the man who launched Russia’s most popular social network, Vkontakte.

Telegram’s “channels” allow users to share messages with followers in a one-way stream of information that mixes old-school blogging with the newsfeed of a really simple syndication (RSS) subscription.

A year ago, RuNet Echo reviewed the rise of this new medium and its emerging role in Russian Internet culture.

Read: Blogging Is Making a Comeback in Russia, Thanks to the Man Who Helped Kill It [4]