Russia’s Telegram Ban Shuts Down Google Services

Google has confirmed its services in Russia are being affected by a ban intended to stop Russians from using communications app Telegram.

The ban has also affected infrastructure providers such as Amazon and other applications that use Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google infrastructure, such as Twich and Spotify.

Russia’s regulator Roskomnadzor (RKN) earlier this month imposed the ban after Telegram refused to supply decryption keys to allow authorities to intercept messages.

RKN said in a statement posted on social media and elsewhere that it had blocked Google internet addresses because they were being used by Telegram.

Evasion tactics

A feature in Telegram causes the app to automatically shift to other IP addresses, including addresses on AWS or Google Cloud,  when the ones in use are blocked.

“We are aware of reports that some users in Russia are unable to access some Google products, and are investigating those reports,” Google said in a statement.

Google Search, Gmail and push notifications for Android are being affected by RKN’s block, according to TechCrunch. The site said Twitch, Spotify and a number of other services that use AWS or Google infrastructure were also affected.

BBC Monitoring said users had reported difficulty accessing and other unspecified services.

Vee Security, a Russian company that is offering a proxy service for Telegram users to bypass the ban, said it was supporting 2 million Telegram users at a time. Telegram has about 14 million users in Russia.

The firm told TechCrunch it doesn’t expect the block on Google and third-party services to continue for a long period, due in part to the World Cup, which is taking place in Russia in June and July, and is expected to bring crowds of tourists to the country.

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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