All the secrets of the Telegram — hundreds of millions of users, a Dubai investor, a Russian developer.

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14 min readMay 5, 2022

The world’s most government-independent communicator. The only social media that does not surrender to the Kremlin. Telegram and its father Pavel Durov may look today like the last righteous men of the social media world. Exactly: they can look like them.

[Photo: Elf-Moondance / Pixabay]

There are many similarities between Pavel Durov and Mark Zuckerberg. Both were born in 1984 — the year of the symbol, both are surrounded to some extent by a nimbus of mystery. Both have problems with their governments, both seem self-obsessed, both see themselves as visionaries. They want people to use only their technological solutions. They believe that technology will save the world. Durov — in contrast to the discredited Zuckerberg, who succumbs to the pressure of American regulators, NGOs, and introduces “censorship” of speech — creates himself as a savior and defender of Internet freedom. All thanks to Telegram.

Pavel Durov — [Photo: NickLubushko, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

The communicator, without which it is difficult to imagine the news about the war in Ukraine. Recordings of the bombed and still burning theater in Mariupol, where women and children were hiding, went around the world, but first they appeared on Telegram. Had it not been for this communicator, news from the front and the besieged cities would certainly not have spread so widely. But it is also, to the world’s surprise, the only social network not based in Russia that Roskomnadzor has left alone for now.

Phenomenon or phenomenal setup?

The Empire of Nikolai and Pavel

The story of Telegram begins in Leningrad. Durov’s parents are the intellectual elite of the city — they both teach at the local university. When the Soviet Union collapses, Pavel is seven years old, but the crisis does not affect his family. He spent most of his childhood in Turin, where his father worked.

The Durovs returned to Russia, already in Peteresburg, in 2001. Pavel was introduced to coding by his brother Nikolai, who is four years older than him, at an early age. Nikolai was the brains behind the…

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