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Creator of Vkontakte Tells of FSB Demands to Close Opposition Groups

Source: (info), 08/12/11 

· Freedom of expression  · Security agencies  · Protests 

Creator of the social network VKontakte, Pavel Durov, has spoken about pressure he has come under from the Federal Security Service (“FSB”). User edvvvard (Eduard Kot), administrator of the group “RosPil – war on corruption – Aleksei Navalny”, has published an exchange with Pavel Durov on his blog. 

According to Eduard Kot, on the evening of 6 December the group found itself unable to introduce new themes or to leave commentaries. He wrote about this in Twitter, and Pavel Durov responded: “A group has been limited to 16,384 posts a day. Now we are changing the algorithm for your sake.” As a result the maximum number of publications was increased to 64,000. 

As reports, after this there was an exchange between Eduard Kot and Pavel Durov on VKontakte. The administrator of Navalny’s group thanked the creator of the social network for his quick resolution of the problem. In reply, Pavel Durov wrote: “Everything is OK. In recent days the FSB has asked us to block opposition groups, including yours. We shall not do this as a matter of principle. I don’t know how this may end for us, but we intend to make a stand.” 

Eduard Kot asked permission to publish this message. Once he had received consent, he posted a screenshot of the exchange on the Internet. Pavel Durov pointed out that VKontakte supports “neither the authorities nor the opposition.” “We shall not block opposition groups,” he promised, “but we have always blocked users who call for physical violence when we get complaints about them and shall continue to do so.” 

Almost 80,000 people are members of Aleksei Navalny’s group. Among the topics discussed in this group are the arrest and 15-day imprisonment of Aleksei Navalny (who is well-known as a blogger), for failing to follow police instructions during a demonstration that did not have official permission. 

In addition, the group’s members discuss taking part in the 10 December demonstration against the falsification of the State Duma election results on Revolution Square in Moscow. 
Rights in Russia,
8 Dec 2011, 14:18