Kremlin denies plans to launch internet firewall similar to China’s

As the state internet watchdog Roskomnadzor continues its attempts to block the Telegram messenger service, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed reports that Russia is planning to install a nationwide online firewall.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Peskov was asked if the thus far unsuccessful efforts to enforce the law and block the Telegram messenger on Russian territory were discrediting internet watchdog Roskomnadzor. Peskov answered that he would not currently talk about “discrediting” as the court decision to block Telegram could not be fulfilled in just one day.

When journalists asked him if the Russian authorities were considering installing a nationwide internet firewall to solve the problem, similar to the ‘Great Firewall of China’, Peskov said that he had never heard of any such discussions.

Russian internet watchdog launches procedure to block access to Telegram messenger

On Monday, Roskomnadzor began sending internet providers lists of millions of IP addresses used by the Telegram messenger, requesting that the addresses be blocked under the ruling of a Moscow court. Last week, the Tagansky District Court in Moscow ordered access to Telegram, a popular internet messenger, to be blocked on all Russian territory, after the company repeatedly refused to hand over encryption keys to its messages to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). 

Many of the IP addresses blocked at Roskomnadzor’s request were also used by other popular websites, applications and programs, and led to access problems to these sites. Telegram, however, introduced ways to bypass the block into its algorithms and currently remains available.

Russian presidential adviser for internet issues, German Klimenko, said in a televised interview that the people and businesses affected by the ban deserved an apology from the authorities.

It is possible that it would make sense to apologize for this complicated story. However, it has not developed into some cataclysm of a global scale. There are complaints but their number is not exceeding the usual levels,” Klimenko told the NTV television channel.