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.
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
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.
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.
Russian Rules

Russian Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
Murder and the Muse

Murder and the Muse

KGB Chief Andropov has tapped Matyushkin to solve a brazen jewel heist from Picasso’s wife at the posh Metropole Hotel. But when the case bleeds over into murder, machinations, and international intrigue, not everyone is eager to see where the clues might lead.
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.
Okudzhava Bilingual

Okudzhava Bilingual

Poems, songs and autobiographical sketches by Bulat Okudzhava, the king of the Russian bards. 
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
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.

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