Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

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withdrew his resignation and said “April Fool's.” However, the company claims his resignation was never officially withdrawn and has now gone into effect.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.

For a round-up of our weekly stories, subscribe to the WeGov mailing list.

News Briefs

RSS Feed monday >

Germany Releases Open Data Action Plan Amidst Grassroots Enthusiasm and Pirate Party Turmoil

The German government on Wednesday unveiled its open data action plan to implement the open data charter established by the G8, now G7, countries. But while German open government advocates welcomed its release, for them it does not go far enough. Even as the open data movement is taking new hold in Germany on the local level with encouragement from the new Code for Germany effort, in the national Pirate Party, the supposed German net party, internal leadership disputes are overshadowing its digital agenda. GO

friday >

First POST: Scotched

Why conservatives should back net neutrality; how big data may damage civil rights; the ways Silicon Valley start-ups are exploiting freelance workers; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Resets

Apple's new iOS8 promises greater user privacy; Occupy Wall Street three years later; how tech may tilt the Scotland independence vote; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Connecting the Dots

Take Back the Tech grades Facebook, Twitter, et al, on transparency; MayDay PAC founder Lawrence Lessig talks about getting matched funds; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Splits

USA Freedom Act divides Internet activists; Julian Assange's Reddit "Ask Me Anything"; New York's pro-net-neutrality protest; and much, much more GO

More