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September 20, 2017

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'Russian Facebook' founder Pavel Durov flees country after pressured to sell share in company

MOSCOW--The maverick founder of Russia's top social network, Pavel Durov, said Tuesday he had fled the country after selling his share in the company under pressure from the security services.

Durov told U.S. technology news website TechCrunch he was no longer in Russia and had "no plans to go back" after social network VKontakte (In Touch) announced Monday that he had left the company.

On Monday the 29-year-old said the social network had effectively been taken over by Kremlin allies, including Igor Sechin, one of President Vladimir Putin's closest confidants.

Durov, who has been compared to Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg, claimed he was squeezed out of VKontakte after refusing to reveal the identities of users involved in organizing pro-EU protests in Ukraine to security services.

"I'm out of Russia and have no plans to go back," he told TechCrunch.

"Unfortunately, the country is incompatible with the Internet business at the moment," he said, adding that he plans to create a new mobile social network.

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