Russia's federal censor warns telecoms that using Telegram could pose ‘reputational risks’

Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, has reportedly distributed a letter to telecommunications companies, warning that using the instant messenger Telegram to provide “information and help services” could pose “reputational and other risks.”

On July 12, the Telegram channel Esher II posted a copy of the letter, signed by Oleg Ivanov, Roskomnadzor’s deputy director. Filipp Kulin, the author of Esher II, told Meduza that he received the PDF from a contact at a Russian telecoms company.

In the letter, Ivanov states that a Russian court ruled in April “to limit the functioning” of Telegram, requiring not only Roskomnadzor but “other legal entities” to assist in the effort.

Russia’s federal censor has reportedly been arguing behind the scenes with Apple and Google about the meaning of the term “other legal entities.” Russian officials have ordered the Internet giants to remove Telegram from their mobile app stores, but both companies have refused, insisting that Russia’s legal system issue a direct ruling that names their businesses explicitly, according to Roskomnadzor head Alexander Zharov.