Telegram experiences brief outage as pre-election stress tests create internet problems in Russia—lawmaker

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Telegram experiences brief outage as pre-election stress tests create internet problems in Russia—lawmaker
Telegram experiences brief outage as pre-election stress tests create internet problems in Russia—lawmaker

Telegram, Russia’s most popular messaging service, experienced a brief outage as security officials conducted stress tests on online resources to eliminate potential weaknesses, according to a lawmaker.

Telegram, Russia’s most popular messaging app, experienced a temporary outage on Tuesday when security agencies conducted stress tests on online resources to eliminate potential vulnerabilities, according to a lawmaker.

President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s supreme leader for more than two decades, is anticipated to easily win another six-year term in office at next month’s election.

Telegram and other sites were impacted, while previously restricted social media apps such as Instagram and Facebook unexpectedly became available in Russia.

The monitoring center for Russia’s public communications network announced on Tuesday that its specialists had detected a “massive failure” of Telegram but did not provide an explanation. Telegram did not respond to a request for comments.

“The work of Telegram Messenger and a number of other services in Russia is already being restored,” Russia’s digital ministry said in a statement, adding that the app has also failed outside of Russia.

“We are working to establish the cause of the incident,” the statement read. “As for Russian telecom operators, their networks are operating normally.”

However, Andrei Svintsov, a deputy head of the State Duma parliamentary committee on information policy, told gazeta.ru that the disruptions were related to pre-election preparations.

“These outages are due to the fact that on the eve of the presidential election, our special services are checking the operability of all systems inside Russia related to the internet and cybersecurity infrastructure,” according to a source.

“Banned sites, banned resources, and banned social networks will have access restricted once again,” he said.

Telegram, YouTube, and Vkontakte disruptions lasting approximately 90 minutes were reported.

Following the outage, numerous previously prohibited social media applications, including Instagram and Facebook, became available in Russia on Tuesday.

For the first time since February 2022, reporters were able to visit Instagram without the need for a virtual private network (VPN).

Roskomnadzor, the communications regulator, has sought to prohibit some foreign digital businesses, including Meta Platforms (META.O), which opens a new tab for Facebook and Instagram.

Moscow has long worked to upgrade its internal internet infrastructure, known as the Runet, even disconnecting from the world internet to conduct testing.

Anton Gorelkin, a member of the same parliamentary committee as Svintsov, stated that it was unclear what caused the Telegram outages but that immediately blaming the Russian state was a mistake, citing “conspiracy theories” that Russia was attempting to block foreign resources prior to the election.

“There have been and will be such incidents for a variety of reasons, from human error to hacker attacks,” he went on to say.

“Much more important is how long it takes to eliminate the failure; the scale of damage to the Russian economy depends on this.”

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