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Every fourth Russian net user backs unrestricted access to Telegram, poll suggests

On April 13, a Moscow court satisfied the claim of Russia's telecom watchdog to block access to the Telegram instant messaging service

MOSCOW, April 24. /TASS/. One in four Russian internet users has highlighted the significance of preserving access to Telegram, while 64% regard the matter as having no fundamental importance, according to a poll conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center that was released on Tuesday.

On April 13, Moscow’s Tagansky Court satisfied the claim of Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media to block access to the Telegram instant messaging service in Russia due to its failure to provide keys for decrypting users’ messages to the Federal Security Service (FSB). On April 16, communication providers embarked on enacting the blocking procedures. On April 16, the watchdog also started blocking the IP-addresses of Amazon’s and Google’s subnetworks that Telegram uses for operation, which resulted in reported operational failures along external web resources that were used by their hosting services.

"Telegram’s accessibility in Russia is not important to 64% of net users surveyed (among them 43% consider it totally unimportant), while 24% regard the possibility of communicating through the messenger as relevant (this share is much higher among those aged 18-24, 45%)," the report says.

In general, the majority of respondents heard about the court case that blocked access to the messaging service in Russia (65%, of them 21% closely monitored the developments). That said, sociologists note a low interest in the messenger itself among Russians, reporting that just 12% use Telegram. The respondents named WhatsApp (59%) and Viber (45%) as the most popular messaging services.

"The situation with the Telegram messenger has obviously reached a fever pitch and has been politicized of late. The decision definitely affects the interests of the users of this messenger, part of whom have considerable influence over the development of expert assessments and social opinions. But, overall, we may say that the court’s decision drew a restrained response from the society," head of the political analysis and consulting practice at the Russian Public Opinion Research Center Mikhail Mamonov stated, commenting on the results.

The state-run pollster conducted the survey in April 2018 among a random national sample of 2,000 adults. The margin of sampling error is no more than 2.2% with a 95% probability.