Ukraine spy agency says Telegram platform blocks its key bots

April 29, 2024 - 2:21 PM
A 3D printed Telegram logo is pictured on a keyboard in front of binary code in this illustration taken September 24, 2021. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

Ukraine’s military spy agency GUR said on Monday that the management of the Telegram messaging platform has blocked a number of official bots that opposed Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.

“Today, the management of the Telegram platform unreasonably blocked a number of official bots that opposed Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, including the main Intelligence bot,” GUR said in a statement posted on the Telegram.

“Despite the blocking of our bot – your personal data is safe.”

Telegram’s press service did not immediately reply to Reuters’ request to comment.

A bot is a software application that can run on its own following instructions and is programmed to perform certain tasks. It can mimic conversation with people, among others, or collect content.

The Dubai-based Telegram messaging app, one of the most popular social media platforms, was founded by Russian-born Pavel Durov, who left Russia in 2014 after he refused to comply with government demands to shut down opposition communities on another social media platform, which he had sold.

After Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Telegram has become a tool for both governments and a go-to place for posting and accessing unfiltered information about the war.

Almost all major media, government entities and public figures in both Russia and Ukraine operate content channels on Telegram.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy posts his daily video addresses on the app, while his armed forces warn of air raids and document battlefield developments. The Kremlin announces President Vladimir Putin’s activities on Telegram, while Russia’s opposition rallies for support.

— Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Lisbon; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan