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Paper plane demonstrators urge Russia to release Telegram app

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Thousands of people marched through Moscow, throwing paper planes, and calling on the authorities to release the popular instant messaging app Telegram on Monday.

People are loosing paper planes, a symbol of the telegram messenger, during a rally against the court's decision to block the messenger for violating Russian regulations in Moscow, Russia, April 30, 201
8. REUTERS / Tatyana Makeyeva 19659003] Protesters chanted slogans against President Vladimir Putin as they launched the planes – a reference to the app's logo.

"Putin's regime has declared war on the Internet, declaring war on free society … so we need to be here to support Telegram," a protester told Reuters.

Russia began blocking telegrams on April 16 after the app refused to comply with a court order to grant state security services access to their users' encrypted messages.

People dismiss paper planes, symbol of telegram messenger, during a rally in protest against court decision to block the messenger as it violated Russian regulations in Moscow, Russia, on April 30, 2018. REUTERS / Tatyana Makeyeva

Russia's FSB Federal Security Service has said that it needs access to some of these news for its work, which includes defending against militant attacks.

In the course of blocking the app, the status watchdog Roskomnadzor has also blocked access to a number of other websites.

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Telegram's founder, Russian businessman Pavel Durov, called for "digital resistance" in response to the decision and promised to finance anyone who developed proxies and VPNs to evade the block ,

More than 12,000 people have joined the march on Monday, said White Counter, a volunteer group that counts people in protests.

"Thousands of young and progressive people are currently protesting in Moscow to defend the freedom of the Internet," Durov wrote on his social media page.

"This is unprecedented, I am proud to have been born in the same land as you are. Your energy is changing the world," wrote Durov.

Telegram has more than 200 million global users and is among the world's 9th most popular mobile messaging services.

The Iranian judiciary has also banned the National Security App, Iranian state television reported Monday.

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