Russian Social Network Founder Denies Fleeing to US

MOSCOW, April 22 (RIA Novosti) – The founder of Russia’s most popular social networking website, VKontakte, denied on Monday media reports that he has gone to the United States to create a new social network.

Pavel Durov said he has not been to the US for a year and has so far no plans to go there again.

His comments came in response to a report by Dozhd TV claiming Durov and his team are currently in the US developing a new social network called However, Durov said that was the name of an application for a new project, Digital Fortress.

Durov said he is currently working on Digital Fortress, a cluster of data centers for startups by winners of the Start Fellows Prize, to be based in Singapore, London, San Francisco, and St. Petersburg.

Durov has been summoned for questioning over a traffic incident in which a police officer was injured, an investigative committee official told RAPSI last Thursday.

St. Petersburg news website reported that local police believed Durov, 28, had been involved in an April 5 traffic accident in the city. News channels said a traffic police officer had been injured when a white Mercedes tried to swerve past him after he flagged it down for a driving offense, and struck him a glancing blow.

Media reports said the police believed Durov was behind the wheel of the car as it fled the scene. Durov’s representatives say he does not drive and uses the city’s subway system. The car in question is registered in the name of Durov’s deputy, Ilya Perekopsky, Vesti reported.

A local Investigative Committee official, Sergei Kapitonov, told Russia’s online Dozhd TV channel on Thursday that Durov had been summoned as a witness in the case, adding that he was due to be questioned “today or tomorrow.” A VKontakte spokesman told RIA Novosti that he was unaware of Durov’s plans and could not say if he intended to answer the summons.

Investigators carried out searches at both VKontakte’s St. Petersburg offices and Durov’s home on Tuesday evening. Media reports said the searches were connected to the traffic accident, but investigators declined to comment.

The summons came the day after the investment fund United Capital Partners (UCP) closed a deal to purchase a 48-percent stake in VKontakte from Durov’s fellow co-founders, Vyacheslav Mirilashvili and Lev Leviyev. The sum of the deal was not disclosed. Durov declined to comment on the deal.

Established in 2006, VKontakte has some 200 million registered users and is more popular than Facebook in Russia.

In December 2011, at the height of anti-Kremlin protests, Durov said he had refused an order from Russia’s security services to delete the pages of opposition groups from the site, including that of anti-corruption blogger and political activist Alexei Navalny.


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