FSB battling with Telegram due to Pavel Durov's own crypto currency
The security service is concerned that a "completely uncontrolled financial system" will be created on the basis of the messenger.
The real reason for blocking Telegram in Russia is intentions of the messenger’s creator Pavel Durov to launch his own blockchain platform Telegram Open Network (TON) with Gram crypto currency. A letter on this effect was sent to colleagues by an employee of the 12th center of FSB, Roman Antipkin, on 18 April, RBC reports. The authenticity of the letter was corroborated by a federal official and a Head of one of the telecom operators.
Antipkin pens that the FSB fears the appearance in Russia of a "completely uncontrolled financial system". "This is not bitcoin for marginalized people, it will be simple, reliable and uncontrolled. This is a threat to the security of the country," says the FSB officer.
Sources of RBC impart that Roman Antipkin repeatedly represented the 12th center of the FSB, which, among other things, oversees System for Operative Investigative Activities (SORM) issues, at various meetings. In particular, he was present at the discussion of the Yarovaya law. Antipkin’s letter was sent from 12center.ru domain.
The publication contacted Antipkin via the telephone number indicated in the letter. The FSB officer said that he did not understand what the journalists were talking about, and did not give any comments.
Durov's plans to launch his own blockchain platform became known in late 2017. The project was named Telegram Open Network (TON), it is planned to use Gram crypto currency in it. The payment system is to be built into Telegram messenger, and subsequently introduced into other social networks and services. The 132-page-long document detailing the project was signed by Nikolay Durov, Technical Director of Telegram and Pavel Durov's brother.
The description of the project says that TON will be able to process millions of transactions per second. The current most popular crypto currency system Bitcoin processes only 9-12 transactions per second, while Visa and Mastercar – several thousand transactions per second.
In early 2018, Telegram held two closed rounds of the ICO (initial coin offering). The company raised $1.7 billion from investors, among whom were the founder of Wimm Bill Dann, David Yakobashvili, and the founder of Qiwi, Sergey Solonin.
The contract between Telegram Group Inc. and an investor specified that the buyer of the tokens cannot use them to ‘launder’ money or violate the sanctions regime, as well as to bankroll terrorism. The document outlined that the unscrupulous use of Gram crypto currency could "seriously affect the reputation of TON."
According to experts, the FSB's fears are well founded. Executive Director of the Internet Protection Society Mikhail Klimarev believes that TON will enjoy much more users than other crypto currency systems due to easy use and speed of transaction processing. That said, all operations in TON will circumvent the state and fiscal bodies.
According to a consultant with the PIR Center, Oleg Demidov, Durov attempts to create a legal project: Telegram relies on ICO and reports on the conducted investment rounds to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. According to Demidov, regulators fear that "it will not be able to force TON into the gray zone, especially if it works legally in other countries." Demidov noted that even successful blocking of Telegram will not prevent the use of TON. The blocking of the messenger, according to the expert, will only partially reduce the number of users of the new system.
Major general Igor Vasiliev, Head of the Engineering Support Service of the Federal Protection Service (FPS), and lieutenant general Ulitin subordinate to him are currently in the middle of a scandal. However, it is unlikely that they lose their posts. Reportedly, the two generals are just the tip of the huge corruption iceberg in the law enforcement structures. This is not the first embezzlement episode in their careers.