Opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s channel on the Telegram messaging app has gathered 27,000 word-of-mouth subscribers in less than 24 hours.
Navalny has been campaigning throughout Russia ahead of presidential elections next March even though a prior embezzlement conviction bars him from running. The presidential hopeful was detained for 20 days last month for organizing campaign events without the authorities permission.
The opposition politician has 2.17 million followers on Twitter, 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube, 390,000 followers on Facebook, 286,000 on Instagram, and 330,000 followers on Russia’s popular social network VK.
Navalny's first Telegram post appeared on Wednesday afternoon. Shortly afterward, he called on his several dozen followers to share his channel with Telegram friends — without the use of public channels or other social media — to see how many subscribers he could generate.
The number of subscribers ballooned to 23,000 early Thursday and almost had cleared 28,000 by the time of publication.
The Kremlin critic is known for producing popular video investigations accusing high-level government figures of corruption.
He is frequently attacked by pro-Kremlin activists, barred from appearing on state television and has spent a total of two months behind bars for organizing unsanctioned rallies this year.
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