Russia desperate for Instagram replacement

Russia plans to launch its social network called Rossgram. According to the creators, Rossgram will be able to replace Instagram blocked in Russia.

The logo of the social network Rossgram

The application was developed by Alexander Zobov, a fellow student of the Telegram creator Pavel Durov. According to Zobov, the domestic app will have the same features as the American one. Russian Instagram is due to appear at the end of March – at first only top bloggers will be able to use it. In April, ordinary users will have access to it. The Russian company VK Group wants to relaunch the ICQ messenger, which was popular at the end of the noughties. According to Vedomosti, the relaunch of ICQ was discussed at the beginning of the year, but after the “suspension of foreign companies in Russia” it “got a new impetus” and is now discussed with the Russian authorities.

“We don’t need war!” The lead singer of the Russian rock band “Nogu Svelo!” Maksim Pokrovsky spoke out against the so-called military operation in Ukraine.

The day before, another Russian performer Oxxxymiron held a charity concert in Istanbul titled “Russians Against the War”. The rapper promised to send all the money from the gig to a Polish charity organization that helps children of Ukrainian refugees.

A black market for currency exchange appeared in Russian social networks, according to the newspaper Kommersant. You can find dozens of Telegram channels if you type in “buy dollars” and “currency exchange”. Most of them appeared in early March.

Most of the offers are not the most favorable. For example, one dollar can be bought for 150 Russian rubles. The gray currency market in Russia appeared against the background of restrictions on currency trading. Currently, one can only buy currency in the non-cash form in Russia. The maximum amount of money you can withdraw from your foreign currency account is $10,000. Banks give rubles for anything over this amount.

Is default coming?

The international rating agency Fitch claims that if Russia pays interest on dollar bonds in rubles, it will be regarded as a sovereign default. The deadline for Russia to pay the bonds is March 16. Earlier, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said the ruble payments are linked to a freeze in Russia’s international reserves.

“Whether it will or will not be declared a default does not matter much from an economic point of view. The ruble exchange rate already largely reflects expectations that this will happen. Accordingly, Russian companies are actually unable to attract any financing from Western markets at the moment,” said Marcel Salikhov, head of the economic department at the Institute of Energy and Finance.

Nevertheless, Anatoly Aksakov, head of the State Duma Committee on the Financial Market, said that there are no grounds for default in Russia. “The country will continue to fulfill its obligations,” Aksakov stressed.

Roskomnadzor continues to sweep the information field. Today, the agency blocked the Kavkazsky Uzel media. Earlier, it was declared a foreign agent. A total of dozens of independent media outlets have been blocked since the start of the so-called military operation in Russia for allegedly spreading false information about the “special operation.” Some outlets have suspended their work.

Pharmaceutical companies are leaving Russia. One of the first – the American Eli Lilly – refused to supply drugs to the country because of the so-called military operation in Ukraine. The company stressed that it was a matter of suspending the supply of nonessential drugs.

“Our activities in Russia are now focused only on ensuring that people with diseases such as cancer and diabetes continue to receive the Lilly drugs they need,” Eli Lilly said on its website.

The company intends to direct profits from sales in Russia to organizations that provide humanitarian aid.