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Leonid Bershidsky

Land of No Opportunity for Russian Zuckerberg

Less than six weeks ago, Pavel Durov, the founder of Russia's most popular social network, extolled Russia' virtues as a land of opportunity. Now he has left the country, never planning to return. 
Durov is a hero to many younger Russians. Photographer: Nadine Rupp/Getty Images
Durov is a hero to many younger Russians. Photographer: Nadine Rupp/Getty Images

It took the man known as "Russia's Zuckerberg" fewer than six weeks to go from extolling the virtues of his country's business environment to emigrating, possibly never to return.

Pavel Durov, 29, is the founder of VKontakte, the social network that got its start by copying an early version of Facebook and became twice as popular in Russia as Mark Zuckerberg's creation. According to TNS figures from January 2014, VKontakte had 52.7 million monthly active users in Russia to Facebook's 25.4 million. One of the reasons for such popularity is that pirated videos and audio tracks, as well as porn, are widely shared on VKontakte.