Russia's telecom watchdog blocks China's WeChat

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WeChat is the most popular messenger app in China and is widely used by Chinese living overseas.

Watchdog Roskomnadzor has listed WeChat, developed by Tencent Technology, on the register of prohibited websites, South China Morning Post reported today.

Tencent told Reuters it was checking the status of its WeChat app in Russian Federation and was in talks with the relevant authorities.

Tencent was aware of the move and communicating with Russian authorities over the matter, according to a brief statement from the Shenzhen-based company.

Vadim Ampelonskiy, spokesman for the Roskomnadzor watchdog, said on Saturday (May 6) WeChat was blocked because it did not provide contact details for Russia's register of "organisers of information distribution on the internet".

Internet-based companies which have links in Russian Federation are required to register with the government.

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WeChat, with almost 900 million users worldwide, is the latest chat and messaging platform to be blocked by Moscow's communications and media regulator.

"We're experiencing a block and we're deeply sorry", a Tencent official said on a company microblog.

Earlier a similarly worded reason was named when Zello, Line and Blackberry messengers got blocked in Russian Federation.

China also has strict internet regulations. WeChat, which had almost 900 million users worldwide by the end of 2016, was not properly registered with Russian regulators, Tencent said.

The law prompted criticism from internet companies but entered into force in September 2015, with professional networking site LinkedIn blocked after it was found to have broken the law.