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VKontakte Founder Sues Former Partners for Extortion in Battle Over Messaging App

Published: June 3, 2014 (Issue # 1813)



  • Pavel Durov, the founder of VKontakte, has accused his former partners of extortion.
    Photo: VK.com

St. Petersburg-born Pavel Durov, the 29-year-old founder of Russia's most popular social network, VKontakte, is suing his former business partners and the Moscow-based investment fund United Capital Partners, or UCP, for what he sees as an illegal attempt to seize control of one of his companies, instant messaging application Telegram.

In a lawsuit filed with a U.S. District court in New York on April 30, Durov accused his former partners Ilya Perekopsky and Axel Neff as well as UCP partners Ilya Scherbovich, Victoria Lazareva and Yury Kachuro of resorting to extortion in an attempt to gain control of Telegram, Vedomosti reported Monday.

Telegram was founded in 2011, shortly after Durov had a run-in with the Federal Security Service, or FSB. As street protests flared up following parliamentary elections in December 2011, the FSB demanded access to user data and messages on Durov's VKontakte — a Facebook-like social network that has a much larger user base in Russia than its U.S. rival, and through which many of the protests were organized. Durov refused the request and said that he came under increasing pressure from the FSB to hand over information. As the pressure mounted, Durov sold his share of VKontakte, resigned as its chief and in April fled the country.

Telegram is analogous to the popular messaging application WhatsApp, but with increased security measures to prevent messages from being intercepted and read by spooks around the world. Durov said in his court statements that he chose to keep the details of his project secret and distribute its assets among several of his companies in several different legal jurisdictions to protect it, Vedomosti reported.

According to Durov, his former partners and UCP attempted to take control of Telegram by leveraging their stakes in several of Durov's companies that own shares in the project — Digital Fortress LLC and Pictograph LLC. Vedomosti said he has asked the court to ensure reimbursement damages and recognize him as the rightful owner of Telegram's assets.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, July 30


SPIBA continues their series of Look@It tours, which focus on the success stories of major brands in the St. Petersburg market. Today’s event will focus on the Gorky Golf Club and will also be held there. For more details visit spiba.ru



Thursday, July 31


Develop your leadership abilities during a lecture by famous Russian author and coach Radislav Gandapas. The event starts at 9 a.m. at 5 Lodeinopolskaya Ulitsa. The price for entry is 20,500 rubles ($570).


Relax and enjoy a Parisian atmosphere with some romantic and laidback jazz tunes during the Night of French Music at Lenny Jam Cafe, 63 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 250 rubles ($7).


The Women’s Business Club is hosting a Beauty Brunch where participants are invited to discuss the latest news in the beauty industry and listen to lectures by professional stylists in the business.



Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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