Telegram founder Pavel Durov has pledged millions of dollars in Bitcoin to VPN providers who resist attempts to ban the app in Russia.
This follows attempts by Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor to block the app, and its banning of over 15 million Internet Protocol addresses in the country.
The bans include address blocks belonging to Amazon and Google.
Roskomnadzor’s push to ban Telegram has resulted in collateral damage to the country’s retail and banking sectors, which rely on cloud services whose IP addresses have been blocked.
“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,” said Durov.
Durov thanked Russian users for their support, and thanked Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft for not taking part in political censorship.
“Russia accounts for around 7% of the Telegram user base. Even if we lose that entire market, Telegram’s organic growth in other regions will compensate for this loss within a couple of months.”
Durov called for others to support the efforts of VPN and proxy providers which help protect Internet freedoms in Russia.