Why Russia is banning Telegram: FSB concerned by cryptocurrency project, not message encryption

The official reason for banning Telegram in Russia – its refusal to let the secret service to decipher user messages, as required by Russian law, to “prevent terrorism” – might not be the real one.

Revealed today by the Russian daily RBC, an internal note written an employee of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Roman Antipkin, tells an entirely different story.

“Colleagues, this story is not about that, can’t you understand? It is not about the [encryption] keys and terrorism (…). Pasha [diminutive for Pavel] Durov has decided to become a new Mavrodi,” Antipkin was quoted as writing, in a reference to Sergei Mavrodi, an infamous Russian fraudster who founded a huge Ponzi scheme in the 1990s.

“If they will launch their own cryptocurrency, we’ll get an absolutely uncontrollable financial system in Russia. This won’t be just bitcoins for mavericks, it will be simple, safe and uncontrolled. This compromises our national security (…). All the drugs, illegal cash, organ trade operations will be performed with the help of Pasha’s cryptocurrency, and he will say: ‘I have nothing to do with this. But you can ban words used by terrorists,’” Roman Antipkin wrote, according to RBC.

Antipkin refers to the TON cryptocurrency project, which Telegram plans to develop after raising more than $2 billion via an ICO.

The Russian daily learned from several sources that Antipkin participated in a variety of meetings on behalf of the Federal Security Service — in particular, meetings dedicated to the implementation of the legislation on electronic communications.

But Antipkin denied to be the author of any letter. “Everyone lies, I have no comments and I don’t understand what you’re talking about,” he said to an RBC journalist who recahed him on the phone.

Neither the FSB’s press service nor Pavel Durov answered RBC’s questions.

Adopted in 2016 and dubbed ‘Yarovaya law’ or ‘Big Brother law,’ this legislation requires instant messengers, ISPs, mobile operators and other “organizers of information distribution” to add additional coding to transmitted electronic messages so that the FSB can decipher them.

See the full scoop over at East-West Digital News: https://ctrlshift.co/2018/04/20/why-russia-is-banning-telegram-fsb-concerned-by-cryptocurrency-project-not-message-encryption/