The Telegram logo is seen on a screen of a smartphone in this picture illustration taken April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin
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Russian authorities are freezing up vast swathes of the country's online world in what critics call a heavy-handed, and so far unsuccessful, attempt to block a popular messaging app, Telegram.Telegram was still available in Russia despite authorities' frantic attempts to hit it by blocking other services, but many users are preparing for the worst, setting up proxies to circumvent the ban.Alexander Zharov, chief of the Federal Communications Agency, said in an interview with the Izvestia daily published Wednesday that Russia is blocking 18 networks that are used by Amazon and Google and which host sites that they believe Telegram is using to circumvent the ban.Internet experts estimate that Russian authorities have blocked about 16 million IP addresses since Monday, affecting millions of Russian users and businesses.Authorities previously insisted that Facebook stores its Russian users' data in Russia but has not gone through with its threats to block Facebook if it refuses to comply.While Telegram remains widely available in Russia, many users are preparing for it to go offline, setting up virtual private networks that would allow them to bypass local restrictions.
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