The statement was made in wake of the announcement of a Moscow district court made earlier in the day, which authorized Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor to block Telegram in Russia immediately, without waiting for the appeal's consideration. The court pointed out that Telegram would remain blocked in Russia until it provides encryption keys to the Russian authorities.
"The decision to block Telegram is deeply worrying as it hampers the important role of internet intermediaries in facilitating the exercise of the right to freedom of expression," OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir said in a statement, urging Russian authorities to reconsider this restrictive measure and "to promote a free, independent and diverse communications environment".
According to the court's ruling, the restriction is subject to immediate implementation and will be valid until the FSB requirements are fulfilled. The latter means the provision of keys for deciphering messages of users of the messenger. The urgent blocking of the messenger in case of a favorable ruling has been previously requested by the state media watchdog.
During the court hearing, a representative of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) pointed out that the Telegram messaging app had failed to explain its refusal to provide the Russian authorities with its encryption keys. As the company's lawyers informed Roskomnadzor last week, it was technically impossible to fulfill its requirements regarding encryption keys.
In December 2017, Telegram was fined for $13,600 for its refusal to provide Russian security services with information to decode the messages of those accused in the case of a terrorist attack in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.
Explaining the reasons for the block, Roskomnadzor representative Maria Smelyanskaya specified that the leadership of the company managing the Telegram messenger pose threat to Russia's interests and security of its citizens.