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Russia: the son of a relative of Vladimir Putin at the head of the country’s first social network

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In charge of the management of the first social network in Russia, called “VKontakte”, the VK group appointed on Tuesday, December 7 Vladimir Kirienko, who is the son of a close associate of Vladimir Poutine, as the new CEO of the company.

“The board of directors of VK is pleased to welcome Vladimir Kirienko to the team,” the company said in a statement, stressing “the vast expertise” of the latter, who was the first vice-president of the state-owned telecoms giant, Rostelecom.

The 38-year-old new CEO is none other than the son of Sergei Kirienko, the deputy head of the presidential administration, a strategic post in the Kremlin. He was also Prime Minister under the presidency of Boris Yeltsin in 1998.

The context of this announcement was also particular since the Russian tech giant was acquired via a subsidiary by the state gas giant Gazprom less than two weeks ago.

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These various elements have come to confirm the doubts of international observers on the threat of censorship in Russia, like the political opponent Alexeï Navalny, imprisoned in the country since January and winner of the Sakharov Prize on November 20.

Towards a “sovereign internet” in Russia?

Russia has toughened its tone regarding internet and social media control in recent months, as was the case with the threat to block Youtube last September.

At the same time, the government has increased threats against Apple, Google and Twitter, accusing the three behemoths of not removing content deemed illegal in the territory.

All of these directives would aim to create a “sovereign Internet” specific to Russia by isolating the Russian segment of the Internet from the major world servers.

YouTube targeted by Russian authorities

Forced to cede the group to a friend of Vladimir Putin in 2014, the creator of VKontakte, Pavel Durov, fled his native country on that date in order to found the famous encrypted messaging Telegram.

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