Kremlin-friendly tycoon buys Russian social media

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

MOSCOW (AP) — A media company owned by Kremlin-friendly oligarch Alisher Usmanov has paid $1.5 billion to gain full control of one of Russia's most popular social media websites, VKontakte.

Mail.Ru, owned by Usmanov, said in a statement on Tuesday that with its purchase of a 48 percent stake, it now owns all the shares in the company. Mail.Ru first invested in VKontakte in 2007 and since then has spent over $2.1 billion accumulating stock.

VKontakte is Russia's second-most visited website, after the search engine Yandex, and has over 270 million accounts.

By closing the deal, Mail.Ru, VKontakte's founder Pavel Durov and his former business partners agreed to drop pending lawsuits against each other.