September 20, 2023

The End of WhatsApp in Russia?


The End of WhatsApp in Russia?
WhatsApp installed on a phone. Dimitri Karastelev, Unsplash.

Russian lawmakers have proposed restricting access to WhatsApp, a popular and secure messaging app, in response to the platform's newly introduced "channels" feature.

WhatsApp's latest update, released on September 13, piloted its new "channel" function in over 150 countries. A multitude of organizations, sports teams, artists, and influential figures have begun establishing their channels. In a few months, this feature will become accessible to all users. 

"If the product of the extremist company Meta begins to expand the functionality towards the mass dissemination of information, the official position regarding its activities in the territory of the Russian Federation may be revised," said Anton Gorelkin, a State Duma deputy.

Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, said he believes that the introduction of WhatsApp channels may transform the platform into a tool for information warfare and a breeding ground for disinformation regarding Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

Mikhail Klimarev, president of Russia's Internet Protection Society, said individuals whose WhatsApp accounts are tied to mobile numbers starting with the country code +7 will not be able to access these channels. In other words, people living in Russia and Kazakhstan would be blocked from the feature.

WhatsApp is a subsidiary of Meta, which was designated as an "extremist organization" in March 2022, following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This led to the banning of Facebook and Instagram in the country. However, WhatsApp, which securely encrypts messages, remained unaffected by the restrictions.

You Might Also Like

Is Wikipedia Next?
  • April 09, 2023

Is Wikipedia Next?

The Russian government ordered Wikipedia to delete 133 pages about its war on Ukraine. Now the online encyclopedia may be banned in Russia altogether.
Bye-Bye, YouTube?
  • February 23, 2023

Bye-Bye, YouTube?

The news outlet Meduza has suggested that it is likely the Russian government will block YouTube in the near future.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Turgenev Bilingual

Turgenev Bilingual

A sampling of Ivan Turgenev's masterful short stories, plays, novellas and novels. Bilingual, with English and accented Russian texts running side by side on adjoining pages.
Dostoyevsky Bilingual

Dostoyevsky Bilingual

Bilingual series of short, lesser known, but highly significant works that show the traditional view of Dostoyevsky as a dour, intense, philosophical writer to be unnecessarily one-sided. 
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar (bilingual)

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar (bilingual)

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
At the Circus (bilingual)

At the Circus (bilingual)

This wonderful novella by Alexander Kuprin tells the story of the wrestler Arbuzov and his battle against a renowned American wrestler. Rich in detail and characterization, At the Circus brims with excitement and life. You can smell the sawdust in the big top, see the vivid and colorful characters, sense the tension build as Arbuzov readies to face off against the American.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
Woe From Wit (bilingual)

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

One of the most famous works of Russian literature, the four-act comedy in verse Woe from Wit skewers staid, nineteenth century Russian society, and it positively teems with “winged phrases” that are essential colloquialisms for students of Russian and Russian culture.
Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.
Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
Fearful Majesty

Fearful Majesty

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.
The Samovar Murders

The Samovar Murders

The murder of a poet is always more than a murder. When a famous writer is brutally stabbed on the campus of Moscow’s Lumumba University, the son of a recently deposed African president confesses, and the case assumes political implications that no one wants any part of.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955