Russia's Largest Social Network Says No to Censorship

Iron Durov. Images remixed by Kevin Rothrock.

Iron Durov. Images remixed by Kevin Rothrock.

Pavel Durov, founder and CEO of Russian social network VKontakte, has once again used his account there as a platform to speak out against Internet censorship. On April 16, 2014, Durov posted a short, but caustic status update [ru], claiming that VKontakte has faced mounting pressure to shut down Alexey Navalny's anti-corruption community. Earlier, Navalny's blog on LiveJournal was blocked in Russia [Global Voices report] by the order of the Prosecutor General's Office, but not before causing widespread service interruptions for all Russian LiveJournal users. In his message today Durov said that VKontakte has also been threatened with wholesale blockages.

RuNet Echo has translated Durov's statement in its entirety:

13 марта 2014 года Прокуратура потребовала от меня закрыть антикоррупционную группу Алексея Навального под угрозой блокировки ВКонтакте. Но я не закрыл эту группу в декабре 2011 года и, разумеется, не закрыл сейчас. 

За прошедшие недели на меня оказывалось давление с разных сторон. Самыми разными методами мне удалось выиграть больше месяца, но сейчас настала пора сказать – ни я, ни моя команда не собираемся осуществлять политическую цензуру. Мы не будем удалять ни антикоррупционное сообщество Навального, ни сотни других сообществ, блокировки которых от нас требуют. Свобода распространения информации – неотъемлемое право постиндустриального общества. Это право, без которого существование ВКонтакте не имеет смысла.

On March 13 2014 the Prosecutor General's Office demanded that I shut down Alexey Navalny's anti-corruption group under the threat of blocking [all of] VKontakte. However, I didn't shut this group down in December 2011, and, certainly, didn't do so now.

In the past weeks I have faced pressure from all sides. Through different methods I have managed to borrow more than a month of time, but now the time has come to say – neither I, nor my team will participate in enforcing political censorship. We will not delete Navalny's anti-corruption community, or hundreds of other communities which we face demands to block. Freedom of dissemination of information is an unalienable right in a post-industrial society. Without this right, the existence of VKontakte has no meaning.

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