Kremlin tells Telegram owner: Be more attentive after attack near Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) -The Kremlin told Telegram owner Pavel Durov on Thursday to be more attentive after the messaging application was allegedly used to help recruit the gunmen who attacked a concert hall outside Moscow.

Telegram, now based in Dubai, was founded by Durov, who left Russia in 2014 after he lost control of his previous company. Russian-born Durov, 39, lives in Dubai and holds dual citizenship of the United Arab Emirates and France, according to Telegram.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian media site Life that there were no plans to block the messaging app, a major disseminator of news in Russia and around the world, but that Durov should be more attentive.

“We would expect more attention from Pavel Durov, because this unique and phenomenal resource from a technological point of view, which has grown, in fact, before the eyes of our generation, is increasingly becoming a tool in the hands of terrorists — used for terrorist purposes,” Peskov said.

Durov, in a post appearing later on Telegram, said measures had been taken immediately to stop what he said had been a flurry of unknown users posting messages appearing to call for new acts of violence.

“As a result, tens of thousands of attempts to send such messages were intercepted and thousands of users taking part in this flashmob came up against a permanent block on their Telegram accounts,” Durov wrote.

From next week, he said, users would be able to limit the number of people able to send them personal messages and artificial intelligence mechanisms would be introduced to filter out unwanted communication.

“Telegram is no place for spam mail or calls for violence,” he wrote.

RIA state news agency said the attackers had been recruited via a radical channel on Telegram belonging to the Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) group.

Durov is estimated by Forbes to have a fortune of $15.5 billion.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Ron Popeski; editing by Philippa Fletcher and Alex Richardson)


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