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In this photo illustration, a Telegram App was placed in the IOS App Store on May 3, 2021, in Bargteheide, Germany. (Katja Knupper/Die Fotowerft/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
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Chatbots of Ukraine's military intelligence agency (HUR), the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), or the Digital Transformation Ministry, which were used, for example, to gather information on Russian troops in occupied territories, have disappeared from Telegram and are unavailable as of April 29.

Telegram, the most popular messaging application in Ukraine, has played a key role in maintaining communication channels with citizens living in Russian-occupied territories.

The Telegram chatbot of Ukraine's military intelligence agency, t.me/gur_official_bot, was used to communicate with those living in Russian-held areas and those who wished to join the struggle against Russian forces.

The channel allowed people to post information about Russian military positions, equipment, air defenses, movement of troops, and more.

The chatbots of the SBU and the Digital Transformation Ministry – t.me/stop_russian_war_bot and t.me/evorog_bot – served a similar purpose.

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Ukrainian journalist Konstantyn Ryzhenko first reported on the disappearance of the chatbots on April 28, and they remain unavailable on Telegram as of 8:20 a.m. local time on April 29.

Ukraine's military intelligence agency confirmed that its bot had been blocked.

"Today, the management of the Telegram platform unreasonably blocked a number of official bots that opposed Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, including the 'Main Intelligence Bot,'" the agency wrote on its official Telegram channel.

The agency stressed that the situation does not impact the security of users' personal data but warned against Russia creating fake bots with similar names. Military intelligence said that it is moving the bot to other platforms and reminded that the users can still use Signal, WhatsApp, or Proton email instead.

Pavel Durov, the Russian-born founder of Telegram, said last week that Telegram users in Ukraine can expect "certain changes" regarding access to some channels he called "general news/propaganda channels."

The entrepreneur said that in February 2022, he suggested restricting "Telegram channels in Russia and Ukraine because they were being used for military propaganda," but Russian and Ukrainian users "vehemently opposed restrictions."

Telegram also bans accounts and bots that collect coordinates to target strikes or post personal information with calls to violence, Durov noted.

Ukraine's military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said in March that Telegram poses risks because "any person can create a channel and start writing whatever he wants on it," but it also presents certain benefits, namely, in communicating with people from occupied regions.

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