Durov, who left Russia for good in 2014, broke months of silence on Instagram as the drama around Telegram has raged. His latest post includes a shirtless picture on a UAE desert background, and a challenge.
The caption goes: “My favorite movie is ‘300.’ The story about 300 Spartans fighting to protect the freedom of their compatriots will inspire people thousands of years from now.”
The photo is hashtagged #PutinShirtlessChallenge, alluding to a photograph of Russian President Vladimir Putin taken on a Siberian fishing trip, which became popular in the Western media and as internet memes. Durov already used this hashtag showing off his chiseled torso in August last year, complaining he had a hard time keeping up with the competition.
Whether or not the battle for Telegram goes down in the history books and Hollywood movies remains to be seen, but at the moment, it looks pretty epic.
Russian telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor blocked the messenger over its failure to provide the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) with encryption keys following a court ruling last week. Telegram, which offers end-to-end encryption, said it would have to overhaul the entire service to comply.
As users found ways around the ban, Roskomnadzor blacklisted 18 million IP addresses apparently used to reroute Telegram traffic. The internet responded with DDoS attacks on Roskomnadzor.
Telegram, meanwhile, remains accessible in Russia. Its notifications are advising users to set up Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections in case Roskomnadzor finally manages to corner it.