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Fireside Messenger Peer-to-Peer Mesh Networking App Helps Ukrainians with Encrypted Messaging and Censorship Evasion

Fireside Messenger Logo

Stas Shalunov - CEO of Clostra

Stas Shalunov - CEO of Clostra

Free and unfettered access to the internet is at risk in Ukraine due to the Russian Invasion.

With Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, we feel compelled to make it clear that the Fireside Messenger app is ideal to mitigate attempts to censor or block content by Roskomnadzor or the military.”
— Stas Shalunov
MIAMI, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES, March 4, 2022 / -- Fireside Messenger from NewNode, a division of United States-based software development company Clostra, is a free app for Android (iOS is coming soon) that works to unblock content and facilitate an end-to-end encrypted messaging service between users. Fireside Messenger uses the open-source NewNode peer-to-peer mesh networking protocol that creates networks comprised of mobile devices.

The NewNode protocol, as well as Fireside Messenger itself, was developed by the same team that created the FireChat app. FireChat was used to great effect by activists and protesters in Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2014.

Fireside Messenger builds on that legacy by adding secure end-to-end encryption of messages and file shares, making it easier for people to communicate securely and access censored information.

Moreover, it can unblock content that has been censored or otherwise denied to a user by routing the request via HTTP Proxy to a peer in the network that does have access. These requests, like the messages, are also end-to-end encrypted to ensure privacy.

Unlike VPNs which route traffic to potentially vulnerable servers in different regions, the nature of peer-to-peer networks makes it difficult or impossible for anyone to block access to digital content. Should one peer be disabled or blocked from access, traffic is routed to other peers that do have access in order to fulfill the request.

When access to content is blocked intentionally via censorship, or if acts of war or natural disasters destroy cell or internet infrastructure, Fireside Messenger offers a resilient and secure means to communicate and share content.

“While there are many use cases for Fireside Messenger, with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine we feel compelled to make it clear that the app is ideal to mitigate attempts to censor or block content by Roskomnadzor or the Russian military,” said Clostra CEO and Founder Stas Shalunov. “I myself was born in the former Soviet Union, where I was a dissident. I know firsthand how it feels to live under an oppressive regime. As a US citizen, and a technologist, I am driven to help those suffering under authoritarianism find a path to uncensored information, and to communicate securely. This is the true purpose of Fireside Messenger.”

“Since the invasion began last week, we have seen a ten-fold increase in the number of downloads and users of Fireside Messenger both in Ukraine and Russia,” Shalunov continued. “Russia is employing draconian methods to suppress anti-war communications and protests, so it is heartening to see the adoption of Fireside Messenger increasing rapidly where it is needed most. We are working with activists around the globe to raise awareness of the app, with a goal to make it impossible for any regime to censor or block content they don’t like.”

Fireside Messenger is a free app found on the GooglePlay store. Those that find that access to GooglePlay has been blocked can install Fireside Messenger by sideloading it from the NewNode website: An iOS version of the app is being beta-tested, with a goal to have it available over the coming months.

To learn more about Fireside Messenger, or to download and install the app, please visit App developers interested in the NewNode Software Development Kit are encouraged to visit the open-source NewNode project on GitHub.

About Clostra
Miami-based Clostra uses machine learning, deep learning, and peer-to-peer networking approaches to create innovative software and mobile applications. Clostra leverages its in-house networking and AI expertise, as well as the latest breakthroughs in academic research, to develop solutions for the most critical problems of the day. Learn more at

About Fireside Messenger
Developed by the same team that created FireChat, Fireside Messenger is a reliant and reliable app designed to unblock censored content and to facilitate secure, end-to-end encrypted messaging. Built using the open-source NewNode peer-to-peer mesh networking protocol developed by Clostra, Fireside Messenger is designed to offer a truly secure means to fulfill the human need to communicate with one another. Learn more about Fireside Messenger and NewNode at

Bill Sengstacken
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