Russia’s security services reportedly targeted the popular Telegram messaging service over its plans to launch a virtual currency, according to Russian RBC agency.
Russia’s telecommunications watchdog shut down the messenger over its refusal to hand over encryption keys to private conversations last week, but a Federal Security Service (FSB) surveillance department official’s letter to colleagues now claims that Russia’s efforts to ban Telegram “aren’t about the keys or terrorism.”
Instead, surveillance department staffer Roman Antipkin wrote in the letter that FSB feared that Telegram’s ICO could lead to a “fully uncontrollable financial system” in the country.
“This isn’t Bitcoin for fringe elements, this will be simple, reliable and uncontrollable. This threatens the country’s security,” RBC quotes Antipkin as writing.
Telegram founder Pavel Durov has pledged “millions of dollars” in grants paid in Bitcoin to support companies and individuals that would provide online tools to allow Russians to sidestep internet censorship.
Telegram is currently trying to raise funds for expansion via an ICO.
The company plans to use the proceeds to develop the Telegram Open Network blockchain, which includes the cryptocurrency Gram.
Telegram seeks to offer transaction speeds faster than the Bitcoin (EXANTE: Bitcoin) and Ethereum (ETH/USD) blockchains, and may seek to compete with Visa Inc. (FWB: 3V64) and Mastercard Inc. (FWB: M4I).
So far, the company is believed to have raised about $1.7billion via an ICO.
By Siranush Ghazanchyan