The founder of Russia’s version of Facebook has been fired and replaced by allies of President Vladimir Putin in an effort to censor the site’s content.
Pavel Durov, who created popular social networking site VKontakte, revealed that he had been stood down in a statement to the media.
“Today VKontakte goes under the complete control of Igor Sechin and Alisher Usmanov,” Mr Durov said. “Probably, in the Russian context, something like this was inevitable, but I’m happy we lasted seven and a half years.”
Durov had refused requests from the government in the past to censor the site and vowed never to return to his home country due to its strict internet controls.
“Unfortunately, the country is now incompatible with internet business at the moment,” Mr Durov told TechCrunch. “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.”
According to the BBC, Mr Sechin, a chief executive of oil company Rosneft, was Putin’s deputy chief of staff and Mr Usmanov, believed to be the richest man in Russia, is an iron ore and steel mogul who also held shares in Facebook and VKontakte.
29-year-old Durov, who said he only found out about his firing through media coverage, expressed pride for all that his site had achieved in its eight years.
“We did a lot,” Mr Durov said in a statement. “And part of what’s been done can’t be turned back.”