Business: US sanctions head of Russia’s largest social media network

New Delhi/Kiev, Feb 27 (IANS) The US has sanctioned Vladimir Kiriyenko, CEO of VK Group which is the parent company of Russia’s biggest social network VKontakte, and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The US Department of the Treasury has divided sanctioned entities into two categories: “major Russian financial institutions” and “elites and families close to Putin.”

The US sanction on Kiriyenko has stopped one of Russia’s most powerful tech honchos from doing business with any US entity.

VK — originally known as VKontakte — is the dominant social media platform in Russia and claims to have around 70 million monthly active users.

“Vladimir Sergeevich Kiriyenko (Vladimir Kiriyenko), previously worked as a vice president at the Russian state-controlled company, Rostelecom, and is presently the CEO of VK Group, the parent company of Russia’s top social media platform, VKontakte,” the US Department of the Treasury said in a statement.

“As a result of blocking actions, all property and interests in property of persons mentioned above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC (Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control,” it added.

The social media platform Vkontakte was created in 2006 by Pavel Durov, known as “Russia’s Mark Zuckerberg.”

In 2014, Durov was pushed out of his position as CEO in a conspiracy-filled case.

Durov placed the blame for his ouster on the Russian government.

“I’m afraid there is no going back (to VK), not after I publicly refused to cooperate with the authorities. They can’t stand me,” he had told TechCrunch.

The entrepreneur later developed the encrypted messaging app Telegram, which is now highly popular across the globe.

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