For roughly two weeks, Russia’s federal censor has tried to cut access to the instant messenger Telegram by indiscriminately blocking millions of IP addresses operated by major cloud computing providers, disrupting an array of websites and online services that have nothing to do with Telegram. The outages have been intermittent and unexpected. One day, you can’t buy movie tickets online. The next day, the dentist can’t scan your teeth. Meduza compiled a list of the different services that have become collateral damage in Russia’s war on Telegram.
An important note: Roskomnadzor denies that its decision to block millions of IP addresses operated by Google and Amazon is responsible for disrupting online services in Russia. The services listed below could be using IP addresses blocked in Russia, or other IP addresses. Meduza cannot verify that these services were disrupted directly because of Roskomnadzor’s actions against Telegram, but the reported outages started after the federal censor launched its crackdown.
Since April 21, Moscow's “Solovei” movie theater has warned customers that Roskomnadzor’s actions against Telegram have disrupted its online ticket sales.
It just launched a month ago, but the Russian-language version of Coda Story is already inaccessible for most Russians. Astrakhan-24 and two dozen Udmurt news websites have also gone dark for Internet users in Russia.
Since Roskomnadzor started blocking Telegram and its myriad IP addresses, the commenting service “Hypercomments” has also been experiencing problems. This has disrupted readers’ ability to leave comments on websites ranging from Taiga.info to Artemy Lebedev’s design studio.
Several users have complained that the ABBYY Lingvo dictionary site is down, though it's unclear how seriously Roskomnadzor’s actions could be affecting the service, as ABBYY has not reported any outages.
When Roskomnadzor blacklisted millions of Google IP addresses, Google’s enormously popular reCAPTCHA anti-spam service started failing for many Russian Internet users. The outages have affected many websites, including the Russian Association of Motor Insurers, which says the loss of reCAPTCHA has hurt its sales of auto insurance policies. On April 23, for instance, the association sold four times fewer policies than usual.
When reCAPTCHA started failing, the popular video-looping website Coub ditched its anti-spam controls altogether, reportedly leading to the registration of “thousands” of phony accounts.
Following Roskomnadzor’s crackdown, several different “smart TV” models have been unable to connect to the Internet. On YouTube, a video has circulated showing personnel at an electronics store explaining that the problem has particularly affected smart televisions manufactured by Samsung, Sony, and LG. “We’re here at work, and we’re just astounded by the number of people who are calling in,” the store clerks say in the video.
On his Telegram channel, Mikhail Klimarev, the executive director of the Society for Internet Protection, says Roskomnadzor has blocked servers used by various wearable gadgets, including Xiaomi fitness trackers, Quardio blood-pressure monitors, and Mayak GPS watches for tracking the location of children.
Roskomnadzor’s actions also seem to have disrupted Russians’ access to the VSCO mobile app — one of the most popular and powerful photo editors available on iOS and Android.
The Delimobil car-sharing service says its app has stopped displaying maps thanks to Roskomnadzor’s censorship. The app itself is still working, but its Google maps have stopped loading.
On April 24, a livestream video from the Magnitogorsk City Assembly crashed when Smotri.com service was disrupted.
“There were problems, but they weren't critical. From our perspective, it's really important for the process of expert evaluation to work without a hitch, and this is the first time that the experts have been unable to save their input on the first attempt,” says the foundation’s general director, Ilya Chukalin.
Roskomnadzor has struggled to block Telegram, but it has succeeded in disrupting other messengers like Viber and Skype. Making voice calls and sending photos over Viber has been erratic, and Skype users have experienced problems logging in.
Some Android users say their devices’ Wifi connectivity started failing when Roskomnadzor began targeting Telegram IP addresses. The devices can detect a Wifi network, they say, but the device thinks the router isn’t connected to the Internet.
Roskomnadzor’s actions appear to have disrupted popular online games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Fortnite, and World of Warships Blitz. Gamers have also reported accessibility problems with PlayStation Network and Nintendo eShop.
The flight search and ticketing service “Kupibilet” has notified customers that some of its functions could be unavailable. “Roskomnadzor had the nerve to block tens of millions of Amazon and Google IP addresses,” the company wrote in an email. “Telegram is still working, but some ticketing systems are having problems.”
Within the first few hours of Roskomnadzor’s decision to block millions of IP addresses in its efforts against Telegram, electronic payments started malfunctioning in some Russian stores and cafes. It’s not clear if Roskomnadzor is responsible for these outages, but the problem hasn’t stopped.
Several Russian Internet users say they’ve lost access to Adobe Creative Cloud (the suite of software and services for designers from the developer of Photoshop). Clients have reportedly had to resort to VPN.
People who own “smart home” systems say some of the services started failing after Roskomnadzor went to war against Telegram. Their devices apparently can’t connect to their cloud servers, rendering them nearly useless.
Google's “smart speaker” has yet to arrive officially in Russia, but people who bought one abroad and brought it home say Google Home worked before Roskomnadzor started banning millions of Google-operated IP addresses.
“Velogorod,” a company that rents out bicycles in St. Petersburg, had to circumvent Roskomnadzor’s censorship when the authorities blocked the VPN services needed for remote monitoring and configurations of rental stations.
On April 17, e-commerce checkouts operated by O’Key Market failed for roughly half the day. The company blamed the outage on its data provider, Beeline. The website Fontanka reported that the service disruption could be related to Roskomnadzor’s actions against Telegram.
Since Roskomnadzor’s crackdown on Telegram, some 3D dental scanners in Russia have reportedly stopped working because they can’t connect to cloud servers needed to verify the equipment’s license numbers.
On April 25, the website Ru.insider.pro reported that Roskomnadzor has blocked the IP addresses used by several major cryptocurrency “mining pools,” banning servers that account for between 10 and 30 percent of Bitcoin’s processing capacity.
The head of Sports.ru, Dmitry Navosha, says a font used on the site’s homepage stopped displaying because of Roskomnadzor’s actions. The font in question was a standard option offered by Google.