VKontakte founder: Social media site under Kremlin control

Pavel Durov, founder of VKontakte, "left" his position as CEO last week after he refused to give the Russian government data on Ukrainian protesters. Now he says he has been forced out so the Kremlin can take over the website.

By Aileen Graef

MOSCOW, April 22 (UPI) -- Pavel Durov, founder of VKontakte, claims that he has been removed from his position and the Russian government has taken control of the website.

VKontakte is the Russian version of Facebook and is the country's most popular social media website. Durov said Monday that he has been fired from his position, and that the social media platform is now under the control of two close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.


"Today, VKontakte goes under the complete control of Igor Sechin and Alisher Usmanov," wrote Durov on his page. "Probably, in the Russian context, something like this was inevitable, but I'm happy we lasted seven and a half years ... we did a lot. And part of what's been done can't be turned back."

Usmanov is a medals tycoon who has launched his own tech business and until recently owned a 10 percent share in Facebook. Sechin, one of Putin's closest advisers, is the leader of a military group made up of former KGB agents that back Putin, and is the CEO of the state-owned oil company.

Durov has previously been asked to shut down pages related to Putin opposition leader Alexey Navalny. He says he has refused all such requests. Durov found out about his dismissal by the VKontakte board through news reports. The board is citing the reason for his dismissal is his failure to formally withdraw his letter of resignation by the appropriate deadline.


VKontakte is used by more than 100 million users in Russia and Europe.

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