Telegram Founder Pledges Millions in Bitcoin For “VPNs and Digital Resistance”

  • Following the ban on Telegram in Russia, Pavel Durov pledges millions in Bitcoin for companies rallying against the Russian Government.
  • Durov has started donating Bitcoin grants to individuals and companies who run Socks5 proxies and VPN.
  • The Russian government’s attempts to shut down Telegram have been futile so far with most users using VPNs and proxies.

With a recent ban on Telegram in Russia by authorities leading to millions of IP addresses being blocked across the country, Telegram founder Pavel Durov has not given up yet. Durov pledged to donate millions of dollars in bitcoin to any VPN provider who becomes a part of his “Digital Resistance”.

Russia started its war against free cross-platform messaging apps yesterday after Telegram refused to hand over encryption keys of its users to the FSB. Following the refusal, a Moscow court ruled against the messaging app which had 200,000,000 users as of March and asked ISPs in Russia to block IP-addresses linked with the service.

Pavel Durov
Image Courtesy of CNN

1.8 million Amazon and Google-owned IP-addresses were blocked on the first day alone. In the last two days, over 15 million IP addresses have been blocked in an attempt to shut down the messaging service in Russia. Despite the efforts, Telegram remained available for most Russian users through the use of VPNs. The ban also backfired against several Russian ISPs as other unrelated services have also been disrupted due to the ban.

Russian Telecoms head Rozcomnadzor asked Google and Apple to remove Telegram from their respective app stores. The telecoms watchdog has also approached third-party APK hosting websites such as APKMirror to take down the app. Neither Apple or Google have taken any steps so far and are yet to make an official statement.

Durov wrote on Telegram earlier today: “Despite the ban, we haven’t seen a significant drop in user engagement so far since Russians tend to bypass the ban with VPNs and proxies. We also have been relying on third-party cloud services to remain partly available for our users there. To support internet freedoms in Russia and elsewhere I started giving out bitcoin grants to individuals and companies who run socks5 proxies and VPN”. He also added: “I am happy to donate millions of dollars this year to this cause and hope that other people will follow. I called this Digital Resistance – a decentralized movement standing for digital freedoms and progress globally.

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