Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Russians Are Organizing Against Putin Using FireChat Messaging App

Alexey Navalny, a former opposition candidate for Moscow mayor, was jailed for seven days for shouting protest slogans and resisting arrest, according to his blog. Photographer: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Alexey Navalny, a former opposition candidate for Moscow mayor, was jailed for seven days for shouting protest slogans and resisting arrest, according to his blog. Photographer: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Anti-government protesters in Russia followed along on Twitter as opposition leader Alexey Navalny live-tweeted his house-arrest violation today. But the real action was on FireChat, where Navalny and his supporters organized protests and exchanged unfiltered communication.

Open Garden, the San Francisco startup that makes FireChat, says activity from Russia has been spiking since yesterday, when Navalny urged his followers to download the free app. FireChat was the top-trending search on Apple’s App Store in Russia today. Downloads in the country began to increase on Dec. 20 after Facebook blocked a page promoting an opposition rally, under pressure from the government’s communications regulator, according to Open Garden.