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vKontakte founder says he’s been fired by Putin allies

By | Published on Thursday 24 April 2014


The founder of vKontakte, the Russian social network that has come under much criticism of late from the music industry for facilitating unlicensed file-sharing (resulting in litigation earlier this month), says he has been fired after allies of his country’s President Vladimir Putin took control of the company.

The specifics of Pavel Durov’s departure from the company are somewhat confused. Durov announced his resignation from the company on 1 Apr, but subsequently claimed that statement was an April Fool. But vKontakte’s management say the firm’s founder had indeed resigned in mid-March and he is therefore no longer with the company.

But Durov claims to have been fired, saying he found out about his axing in the newspapers. He also says that his firing comes after he refused to censor certain political groups on the vKontakte platform, and that the company is now controlled by shareholders Igor Sechin and Alisher Usmanov, both seen as close allies of the increasingly controversial Russian president.

Durov said in a statement: “Today I was fired as General Director of vKontakte. It’s interesting that the shareholders didn’t have the bravery to do this directly, and that I learned about my firing from the press. Today vKontakte goes under the complete control of Igor Sechin and Alisher Usmanov. 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”.

Meanwhile in an interview with TechCrunch he went on: “Unfortunately, [Russia] is now incompatible with internet business at the moment. I’m afraid there is no going back [to the company], not after I publicly refused to co-operate with the authorities. They can’t stand me”.