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The son of a relative of Putin is appointed head of Russia’s 1st social network

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The announcement comes less than two weeks after state-owned gas giant Gazprom acquired the group through a subsidiary, a transaction illustrating increased control by Russian authorities over social media and the internet.

The father of the new CEO 38-year-old Sergei Kirienko, deputy head of the presidential administration, a key post in the Kremlin. He was prime minister under Boris Yeltsin’s presidency until a historic financial crisis in 1998 brought down his government.

VK Board of Directors is pleased to welcome Vladimir Kirienko to the team, the group said in a statement, reporting the vast expertise of his new boss, who previously held the post of first vice-president of state-owned telecoms giant Rostelecom.

The VK group has social networks VKontakte – nicknamed the Russian facebook – and Odnoklassniki, Mail.ru messaging, as well as video games, transport, payment and delivery services.

The creator of VKontakte, Pavel Durov, left Russia in 2014 after being forced to hand over his group to someone close to Vladimir Putin. He avoids from his home country and founded the popular Telegram encrypted messaging.

Towards greater control of the Internet

The Russian authorities have in recent months given a tightening of the screw to control content on the Russian Internet, in particular social networks, in the name of the fight against extremism and terrorism.

For many observers, Non-governmental organization and opponents, the government seeks to censor its detractors, like the organization of the imprisoned opponent Alexeï Navalny, banned for extremism.

The fines against Twitter, Google and Apple are also increasing, with Moscow accusing them of not removing content deemed illegal in Russia.

During the legislative elections in September, Apple and Google had to remove the Navalny team’s application from their stores in Russia.

In addition, the authorities are developing a controversial system ofSovereign Internet which should make it possible to isolate the Russian segment of the Internet by separating it from the large world servers.

The Kremlin denies that it wants to build an Internet under its control, as it is in China, but that is what its critics fear.

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