Support The Moscow Times!

VKontakte Founder Supports Ukraine Protest, Says Authorities Wanted $100,000 Bribe

The St. Petersburg-based entrepreneur's profile picture on VKontakte. Pavel Durov

VKontakte founder Pavel Durov accused the Ukrainian authorities of trying to extort a $100,000 bribe from him for returning the computer servers they had confiscated from his social network this summer.

The servers haven't been returned yet, and no cogent reason for seizing them has been provided, Durov wrote on his VKontakte page Sunday.

"Officially, Ukrainian bureaucrats have changed the reason for confiscating our servers several times," he said. "Unofficially, Ukrainian bureaucrats demanded a $100,000 bribe to return our equipment to us."

Durov, whose network is more popular than Facebook in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, added that the confiscation of the servers has deprived Ukrainian Internet users of quick access to VKontakte and has cost the Ukrainian economy "millions of dollars in potential investments."

The tech entrepreneur also said he hoped the ongoing protests in Ukraine over the government's U-turn on a European association deal would lead to "positive changes" in the way the country is run.

"It is obvious that these wonderful people deserves a higher intellectual and moral standard from their rulers," he said.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

The Moscow Times’ team of journalists has been first with the big stories on the coronavirus crisis in Russia since day one. Our exclusives and on-the-ground reporting are being read and shared by many high-profile journalists.

We wouldn’t be able to produce this crucial journalism without the support of our loyal readers. Please consider making a donation to The Moscow Times to help us continue covering this historic time in the world’s largest country.