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Shareholders Divided Over Pavel Durov's Successor at VKontakte

Published: June 20, 2014 (Issue # 1816)



  • Pavel Durov's departure from the company he founded has caused a power struggle within the organization of Russia's largest social network.
    Photo: VK.com

Moscow-based investment fund United Capital Partners, or UCP, has voted against appointing Boris Dobrodeyev, son of the head of Russia's largest state-run media corporation, the new CEO of leading social network VKontakte, or VK, in which it holds a 48-percent stake.

UCP will agree to appoint Dobrodeyev, however, if Russian internet company Mail.Ru — owner of the other 52 percent of VK — agrees to drop its lawsuit in the London arbitration court contesting UCP's purchase of VK shares last April, and help the fund transfer control of the Telegram instant messaging service from VK's founder, Pavel Durov, to VK, Mail.Ru said in a statement cited by PRIME on Wednesday.

There is no love lost between Durov and UCP — on April 30, Durov filed a lawsuit against his former business partners and UCP in a U.S. court, accusing them of resorting to extortion in an attempt to gain control of Telegram, a version of popular messaging application WhatsApp with beefed up security to prevent messages from being intercepted.

There is not much warmth between UCP and Mail.Ru either. UCP rejected Dobrodeyev's candidacy at a meeting of VKontakte's board of directors on Tuesday on the basis that he does not have enough management experience and is not an "independent" candidate, Vedomosti reported Wednesday, citing the fund's documents.

UCP blames Mail.Ru Group for the delay in appointing a new chief executive, which has now dragged on for over two months. Viktoria Lazareva, a partner at UCP, said that there are many independent, experienced candidates, but that Mail.Ru Group always rejects them.

Billionaire Alisher Usmanov's Mail.Ru Group, Russia's second-largest Internet company, nominated Dobrodeyev earlier this month to replace the 29-year-old Durov, who fled to the U.S. in April after coming under pressure from the Russian security services, the FSB. Durov claims that the FSB requested information on VK users, and turned up the pressure on him when he refused to hand anything over.

Dobrodeyev's father, Oleg, heads the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, a state media giant that runs five national television channels, a plethora of Internet projects and more than 80 regional television and radio networks.

UCP has so far put forward at least two potential chief executives — a former shareholder in VK, Lev Leviyev, who sold his 8-percent stake last year following raids on the site's St. Petersburg headquarters, and Alexei Zakharov, head of the online recruiter Superjob.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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