Users of the social media platform must be forced to register, according to Kirill Budanov Head of Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence Kirill Budanov © Getty Images / Ximena Borraz; SOPA Images; LightRocket

Telegram poses a “huge problem” for Ukraine and must be legally forced to do away with anonymous channels, Kiev’s top spy Kirill Budanov said in an interview with the BBC published on Monday.

The intelligence chief argued that the platform, which was ranked the most popular messaging app in Ukraine in 2023 according to SimilarWeb, has now effectively acquired that status of media and insisted that it is “abnormal” that the owners of channels are allowed to conceal their identities.

“We should streamline it all – put things in order, at least legally force everyone to register so that it is clear who belongs to which media,” Budanov said, suggesting that people should bear responsibility for the opinions they express.

Asked if simply blocking certain Telegram channels would fix the problem, Budanov claimed that such a move would only be a temporary solution, and insisted that only forcing channel owners to register would prove effective.

At the same time, the spy chief emphasized that his proposal would not be tantamount to placing pressure on the media, arguing that such a thing is not allowed in a “democratic society.”

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Last month, Budanov also described Telegram as a national security threat to Ukraine. He insisted that he was against suppressing freedom of speech, but argued that the ability of any user to create a channel on the platform and “write whatever they want” had nothing to do with “freedom of the media.”

In response to Budanov’s statements in March, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova suggested that Telegram creator and owner Pavel Durov should “urgently take measures to strengthen the security of the company’s headquarters and its employees in connection with a possible attack by Islamic State (formerly ISIS) terrorists.” She was apparently referring to Moscow’s accusation that Kiev worked together with the extremist Islamist organization to organize last month’s attack on Crocus City Hall near Moscow, which cost the lives of over 140 people.

Meanwhile, Durov has insisted that he remains committed to defending the privacy of Telegram users. In an interview with Tucker Carlson last week, he reiterated that Telegram strives to allow everyone on the platform to freely express their opinions without censorship. (RT)