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Founder Durov On Being Ousted From "Russian Facebook": "Some of What We Managed Is Already Impossible to Undo"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 22 2014

Screenshot of Durov's VK account

On Monday Pavel Durov, the founder of “Russian Facebook” VKontakte, announced that he was fired—and that he learned of the dismissal from the news media.

Durov's resignation in late March was widely reported, although he later withdrew his resignation and said “April Fool's.” However, the company claims his resignation was never officially withdrawn and has now gone into effect. Durov sold his remaining 12 percent stake in the company he founded in January.

Last week Durov reported on his VKontakte page that the Russian Security Service had demanded the user information for Ukraine's Euromaidan organizers and asked him to close Alexey Navalny's anti-corruption group, and that he had categorically refused.

Durov's full statement on his ouster from VKontakte [translation by Global Voices]:

Judging by the news, as a result of my refusal last week [to cooperate with the Kremlin], today they’ve fired me from my post as general director of Vkontakte. Interestingly, the shareholders didn’t have the courage to do this directly, and I learned about my own dismissal from the press.

It’s being reported that VK’s board of directors today *suddenly* determined that the withdrawal of my letter of resignation (which they publicly accepted until now) appears to have been formatted “not entirely according to the rules,” and therefore I am automatically dismissed from my position. As I understand it, all the shareholders share this non-transparent position.

As a result, Vkontakte today goes under the total control of Igor Sechin and Alisher Usmanov [two Putin supporters]. Most likely, in the Russian context, something like this was inevitable from the start, but I’m glad that we lasted seven and a half years. We accomplished a lot. And some of what we managed is already impossible to undo.

TechCrunch reached out to Durov to ask him what's next.

“I’m out of Russia and have no plans to go back,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, the country is incompatible with Internet business at the moment.”

“I’m afraid there is no going back [to VKontakte],” he said “not after I publicly refused to cooperate with the authorities. They can’t stand me.”

Durov probably won't stray far from social media, however. “I’m likely to start building a mobile social network this year,” he told TechCrunch.

He has already built a new encrypted messaging app called Telegram, which is making inroads into Facebook's WhatsApp user base.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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