Some 10,000 people joined a rally in Moscow on Monday to protest against recent restrictions on internet freedom in Russia.
In a battle to cripple Telegram’s operations, the Russian communications watchdog this month blocked some servers owned by tech giants Google and Amazon, affecting millions of Russian websites.
Protesters flocked to a central street on Monday, which is a public holiday in Russia, to demonstrate against the communications regulator’s actions. People were holding placards reading “For freedom of speech!” and “Down with the czar!”
The hashtag Digital Resistance supporting the Telegram protest was trending on Twitter on Monday.
Over the past few years Russia has adopted legislation aimed at curtailing internet freedom and limiting data privacy. One of the last measures requires mobile phone operators to store data of voice calls and messages for several months.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who gained prominence thanks to his blog exposing corruption among state officials, on Monday accused authorities of trying to breach citizens’ privacy by exerting pressure on Telegram to share encryption keys.
“I turn on the TV and I see news that some guys… have decided that they have the right to read everything I message in Telegram,” Navalny told the rally. “I’m not going to tolerate that.”
Telegram’s founder, Durov, in a social media post wrote that the rally was “unprecedented” and said that he felt “proud to have been born in the same country” as the protesters.