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Index – Abroad – Gazprom has taken over the largest social media outlet in Russia

This move is not surprising, as Moscow has tightened the online space in recent years, prompting foreign technology companies Fines from the Government Communications AuthorityWhat’s more, many western social media are trying to create a local version. For example, the Russian version of Yappy and the more verifiable version of TikTok were launched on Monday.

Aliser Usmanov, who owns a majority stake so far, has marketed 45% of the shares, and the shares have been transferred from an investment fund bearing his name to Sogaz, an insurance company founded by Gazprom with allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin. .

As a result of this transaction, Sogaz received voting rights in the decisions of VK Group Holding, which owns and operates other Internet services in addition to VKontakte.

The state’s shady expansion into the tech sector didn’t end here. The gas company’s bank, Gazprombank, took an additional 45 percent stake in the VK group and then transferred its stake to Gazprom Media, a conglomerate called Gazprom Media. By the way, Gazprom Media Yappy did not launch.

Gazprom’s subsidiaries have already become the controlling shareholders of VK

noted Vladimir Bespalov, an analyst interviewed by the Moscow Times.

This is also indicated by the fact that the CEO of VK announced his resignation after eight years and will leave when his successor is appointed.

– Proposes the Moscow newspaper.

To allay concerns about VKontakte, which has about 100 million users, Gazprom Media, which previously headed the Russian media (censorship) body, said reassuringly that VK would remain an independent company.

The Kremlin has long been working to bring Russia’s online space under tighter control. Among other things, it obliged foreign Internet companies to store data of Russian users on Russian servers, and by the end of this year, all companies wishing to operate in Russia must open a local office.

Nor were local companies dealt with with gloved hands. VKontakte was sold by its founder in 2014, and therefore became of interest to Putin’s ally Usmanov. Zuckerberg’s Russian, Pavel Durov, attributed this to pressure from Russian intelligence.

And the largest technology company in the country, Yandex, was forced to create a new management structure, handing over decisions on data storage and cooperation with foreign partners to a separate new board of directors consisting of members authorized by state institutions.

(Cover image: Vkontaktyé (VK) online platform. Photo: Shutterstock)