The Russian Ministry of Digital Development has not received confirmation from Meta (formerly Facebook; the company is recognized as extremist and banned in the Russian Federation) about the launch of Russian-language channels in the WhatsApp messenger (owned by Meta, which is recognized as extremist and banned in the Russian Federation) in the country. This was stated by the Minister of Digital Development of the Russian Federation Maksut Shadayev.
“We have no confirmation from Facebook that WhatsApp will launch channels in Russia,” he said (quote according to TASS). Shadayev clarified that the ministry sent such a request to Meta.
On September 13, WhatsApp announced the global launch of the Channels feature in over 150 countries. Roskomnadzor allowed the messenger to be blocked if it refuses to delete “unfriendly channels.” A review of the decision on the operation of WhatsApp was also not ruled out in the State Duma and the Federation Council.
After this, Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Vladislav Davankov turned to the head of Roskomnadzor Andrei Lipov with a request not to block WhatsApp. He noted that as of March 2023, the messenger is used by 70% of Russians, and the audience of the application in Russia is more than 73 million people. On September 20, Shadayev emphasized that the Ministry of Digital Development is not discussing blocking YouTube and WhatsApp.
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