“Russian Facebook” CEO Was Fired, Leaving VKontakte Under Putin’s Control

Pavel Durov was fired after his fake resignation on April 1

VKontakte’s Pavel Durov is out of job and this time it’s for real. Durov says that he was fired, just a few weeks after he faked his own resignation.

“Today, VKontakte goes under the complete control of Igor Sechin and Alisher Usmanov,” Durov said on his VKontakte page, indicating the fact that the site was now “under the complete control” of two close allies of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.

As a reminder, Usmanov is one of Russia’s metal tycoons who also owns Mail.ru, a company that has been increasing its stake in the so-called “Russian Facebook” up to 52 percent. He also used to own a big stake in Facebook, which he sold recently.

Igor Sechin is another big name in Putin’s country. He backs a political faction close to the president and leads Rosneft, a state-owned oil company.

Durov doesn’t seem to be too surprised about the fact that he was fired, saying that it was inevitable in the country’s context for VKontakte to end up being controlled by Putin’s loyal advisors. He is referring here to the strong control that Russian officials have on the country’s media and other means to express freely.

Even so, he’s happy that it lasted as long as it did and pleased with what they’ve managed to accomplish in the past seven years.

VKontakte’s cofounder indicated that it was his fake resignation that led to him being fired. It looks like the Board of Directors considered his move not to be in line with the company’s rules.

Durov announced on April 1 that the new shareholder structure no longer allowed him enough “freedom” to lead the company as he saw fit so he was quitting. Given the day he chose, everyone wondered if that was all a joke.

Two days later, in a couple of new posts he made on his VKontakte profile, he rescinded the resignation, implying that it had all been a hoax and that he did learn a lot about what might happen to his company after his departure.

The rumor that Durov was being pressured to leave the company has been making the rounds for a while now, especially since this year began, when he sold his 12 percent stake in VKontakte. Coupled with the fact that some of the other founders of the site also resigned, including Ilya Perekopsly and Igor Perekopsky, vice president and chief financial officer respectively, reports about Durov’s imminent departure have been in the media for months.

VKontakte must now choose a replacement for Durov.

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