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Sergei Zakharov made comments for Telecom blog, concerning Pavel Durov’s accusations against Mail.ru

18 October 2011

Pavel Durov, the head of Vkontakte once again publicly took pot shots at Mail.Ru Group. On his page in Facebook he stated that Mail.Ru “openly gives large bribes” to managers at companies which orderInternet ads. Put it otherwise, Durov has actually accused the holding of “cut" made on contracts.

The head of Vkontakte has made the statement when answering a question by users as to why he considers Mail.Ru as a corrupted company. In addition to bribery charge, Durov remarked that holding is annoyed by auction pricing system for advertizing adopted by Vkontakte. He writes about Mail.Ru as follows: “They said that they could charge such companies as Procter&Gamble 10 times as much for the ads they sell them due to “cut”, because (textual quotation from Dmitry Grishin) “they are morons all of them”.

Later on these messages were deleted; however, screenshots containing messages still exist. Durov confirmed his authorship on Roem.ru and pointed out that comments were made in the context of testing a widget and the new application for Facebook. “The post has been deleted; perhaps, later we’ll tell about corruption in a more orthodox network or mass-medium,” said the head of Vkontakte.

The press-service of Vkontakte did not make official comments concerning the case. The most interesting point of the story is the reaction of Mail.Ru; however, they decided not to make comments on the situation, too. At the same time, Sergei Zakharov, representative of lawyer consultation of “Vertical” noted that Durov's words contain a criminal charge against particular persons, stipulated by article 291 of the Penal code of RF. Consequently, Mail.Ru can file counter-charges against him, and to accuse him of libel. Moreover, a slander suit may be filed against Pavel, subject to article 152 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation. The lawyer said that “It doesn’t matter whether this information was later deleted from the public data network or not.”

A representative of an advertizing agency told Telekomblog (without speaking directly about Mail.Ru) that advertizing industry connected with major companies, is, as a whole, considered very corrupted, and the significant part of large budgets is actually “siphoned off” by managers of the advertiser and advertising distributors.

Total advertising proceeds of Mail.ru Group at year-end 2010 was USD 124 million.

Generally speaking, everyone acquainted with advertisement market is aware of bribes when siphoning off advertising budgets, however not many people are bold enough to speak out before everyone. Pavel Durov is known for his outspoken and harsh remarks. For instance, he has recently expressed an opinion that alcohol and tobacco are one of the most dangerous drugs legalized due to influence of involved corporate groups.

Pavel Durov has repeatedly criticized Mail.Ru Group. For instance, in this July he published an open letter stating that the controlling stake of the social networking website shall, as before, belong to its founders, and that the latter do not intend to change the current standing. He added that rumors on Mail.ru Group being in process of negotiations aiming to buy VKontakte, do not reflect the actual situation. “We rule out the situation when VKontakte makes part of Mail.ru Group, and believe that such situation is an utopia,” wrote Mr. Durov. Having said so, he called Mail.ru Group “domestic Titanic among Web portals”.

Later on he told that VKontakte disables the links to the file hosting service of Mail.ru because the latter is “a humdrum stock of viruses and warez, similar to other services of mail.ru.

Aleksei Tsoi

Telecom blog


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