MOSCOW, April 1 The founder of Russia's biggest
social networking site VKontakte said on Tuesday he was stepping
down as chief executive, three months after selling his stake in
Pavel Durov sold his 12 percent holding in the firm -
Russia's answer to Facebook - in January to Ivan Tavrin,
chief executive of Russian mobile phone operator Megafon
Billionaire Alisher Usmanov then cemented his control over
social media in Russia last month when internet group Mail.Ru
- which he part-owns - bought the shares from Tavrin,
increasing its stake in VKontakte to 52 percent.
Durov announced he was stepping down in a statement posted
on his VKontakte account, and said that his freedom in running
the company had been reduced by a shareholder change. It was not
clear which shareholder change he was referring to and his
spokesman would not comment beyond confirming his departure.
VKontakte's spokesman and Mail.Ru also confirmed that Durov
had stepped down but gave no further comment.
Russian investment fund United Capital Partners, which has a
48 percent stake in VKontakte, said in a statement that
shareholders would discuss the procedure for choosing a new CEO
at a board of directors meeting this week.
Mail.Ru already owns Russia's No. 2 and 3 social networking
sites - Odnoklassniki (OK) and Moi Mir (My World) - and the deal
for Tavrin's stake in VKontakte gave it effective control over
the top three social media in Russia.
(Reporting by Megan Davies; Editing by Pravin Char)