VKontakte (VK), the Russian social media network that shares a lot of similarities to Facebook (with the added feature of music piracy) recently saw its founder and CEO, Pavel Durov, suddenly step down, and then claim he was coming back. Now, Durov is claiming that the social media site he built is under the complete control of two Russian oligarchs that are known to have close ties to Putin according to media outlets.
Durov posted a statement on his VK account, stating that the board of directors forced him out by employing a by-the-letter rule. Durov apparently submitted a resignation letter on March 21, and then publicly announced his resignation on April 1, before renouncing that resignation as an April Fool’s Joke. He apparently didn’t fill out the correct paperwork to cancel his March 21 resignation, causing the board to automatically accept it as final.
Durov claims that his ousting was using an arcane rule to do something the site’s shareholders lacked the “courage” to do. Durov says that the site is now under the complete control of Igor Sechin and Alisher Usmanov.
Igor Sechin was Putin’s former deputy chief of staff and the current head of Rosneft, Russia’s largest state owned oil company. His relationship with the Kremlin is so close, that he used to be nicknamed “Putin’s Shadow.” He is number 60 on Forbes’ Powerful People List.
Alisher Usmanov is Russia’s richest man, made his initial fortune in metals but has since expanded into media and technology companies. His company is the primary shareholder of Megaphone, Russia’s second largest telecommunications company. He previously held Facebook and Apple stock.
Durov did have one good bit of news at the end of his post (translated by Google, then edited) “We have accomplished a lot. And part of what has been done cannot be reversed.”
It should also be mentioned that Durov previously said that Russian authorities pressured him into giving up Ukrainian demonstrator’s personal data. He claims to have refused, which seems to have led to him falling out of favor with the Kremlin (and his eventual ousting at VK). The 29-year-old says he has left Russia and does not plan to return.
[Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk]