Pavel Durov

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Pavel Durov
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Pavel Valerievich Durov

(1984-10-10) 10 October 1984 (age 36)
CitizenshipRussian, Kittitian[1]
Alma materSaint Petersburg State University
Years activeOctober 2006–Present
Known forFounding VK in 2006
Founding Telegram Messenger in 2013
Net worth US$3.4 billion[2]
RelativesNikolai Durov (brother)

Pavel Valerievich Durov (Russian: Па́вел Вале́рьевич Ду́ров; born 10 October 1984) is a Russian entrepreneur who is best known for being the founder of the social networking site VK, and later the Telegram Messenger.[3] He is the younger brother of Nikolai Durov. Since being dismissed as CEO of VK in 2014,[4] the Durov brothers have traveled the world in self-imposed exile[5] as citizens of Saint Kitts and Nevis.[6] In 2017 Pavel joined the World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leaders as a representative of Finland.[7][8]


Pavel Durov's grandfather Semyon Petrovich Tulyakov participated in World War II. He served in the 65th Infantry Regiment, participated in the battles at Leningrad front on Krasnoborsky Gatchinsky and other directions, was wounded three times, receiving the Order of the Red Star,[9] the Order of the Patriotic War II degree,[10] and on the 40th Victory Day, the Order of the Great Patriotic War level I.[11] After the war, he was arrested.[12]

Durov's father Valery Semenovich Durov is a Doctor of Philological Sciences, the author of many scientific papers, and since 1992 he has been head of the department of classical philology of philological faculty of Saint Petersburg State University.[13]

Early life and education[edit]

Pavel Durov was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), but spent most of his childhood in Turin, Italy. His father Valery (who holds a PhD in philology) was employed there.[14] He attended an Italian elementary school, and after returning to Russia in 2001 attended the Academy Gymnasium in St. Petersburg (before Leningrad).[15] In 2006, he graduated from the Philology Department of the Saint Petersburg State University, where he received a first class degree. Pavel Durov's early life and career are described in detail in the Russian-language book The Durov Code. The True Story of VK and its Creator (2012).[16]



Durov started VKontakte, later known as VK, in 2006, which was initially influenced by Facebook.[17] During the time when he and his brother Nikolai built upon the VKontakte website, the company grew to a value of $3 billion.[6]

In 2011, he was involved in a standoff with police in St. Petersburg when the government demanded the removal of opposition politicians' pages after the 2011 election to the Duma; Durov posted a picture of a dog with his tongue out wearing a hoodie and the police left after an hour when he did not answer the door.[16][17]

In 2012, Durov publicly posted a picture of himself extending his middle finger and calling it his official response to's efforts to buy VK.[16] In December 2013, Durov was pressured[vague] into selling his 12% of VK stock to Ivan Tavrin, the owner of the major Russian internet company,[6] who subsequently sold it to, giving it 52% majority ownership of VK. In 2014, bought all remaining shares and became the sole owner of VK.[18][19]

Dismissal from VK[edit]

On 1 April 2014 Durov submitted his resignation to the board; at first, due to the fact the company confirmed he had resigned, it was believed to be related to the Ukrainian crisis which started in February.[20] However, Durov himself claimed it was an April Fool's Joke on 3 April 2014.[21][22]

On 16 April 2014 Durov publicly refused to hand over data of Ukrainian protesters to Russia's security agencies and block Alexei Navalny's page on VK.[4] Instead he posted the relevant orders on his own VK page [23][24] claiming that the requests were unlawful.

On 21 April 2014 Durov was dismissed as CEO of VK. The company claimed it was acting on his letter of resignation a month earlier that he failed to recall.[4][25] Durov then claimed the company had been effectively taken over by Vladimir Putin's allies,[25][26] suggesting his ouster was the result of both his refusal to hand over personal details of users to federal law enforcement and his refusal to hand over the personal details of people who were members of a VKontakte group dedicated to the Euromaidan protest movement.[25][26] Durov then left Russia and stated that he had "no plans to go back"[26] and that "the country is incompatible with Internet business at the moment".[4]

Life after VK[edit]

Upon leaving Russia, he obtained Saint Kitts and Nevis citizenship through donating $250,000 to the country's Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, and secured US$300 million in cash within Swiss banks. This allowed him to focus on creating his next company, Telegram, which was originally based in Berlin and focused on an encrypted messaging service.[6] Later he tried to launch the "Gram" cryptocurrency and the TON platform, raising a $1.7 billion startup with investors including the widow of Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs. However, these ventures were halted by federal courts.[27]


Durov is a self-described libertarian and vegetarian.[28][29][30][31] In 2012, he published manifestos described by commentators as "Libertarianism" detailing his ideas on improving Russia.[32] For his twenty-seventh birthday in 2011, he donated a million dollars to the Wikimedia Foundation,[33] the founder and honorary chairman of which is fellow libertarian Jimmy Wales.[34]


Durov has been called the Mark Zuckerberg of Russia.[35]

In August 2014, Durov was named the most promising Northern European leader under 30.[36] He was in 2017 chosen to join the WEF Young Global Leaders, representing Finland.[7][8]

On 21 June 2018 the Union of Kazakhstan's Journalists awarded Durov "for his principled position against censorship and the state's interference into citizens' free online correspondence."[37]

In 2018, Fortune magazine included Durov in their “40 Under 40” list, an annual ranking of the most influential young people in business.[38]


  1. ^ "Vkontakte Founder Pavel Durov Becomes Citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis". The Moscow Times.
  2. ^ "Pavel Durov". Forbes.
  3. ^ "Why Telegram has become the hottest messaging app in the world". The Verge. 25 February 2014. Archived from the original on 2016-03-13.
  4. ^ a b c d "Durov, Out For Good From, Plans A Mobile Social Network Outside Russia". TechCrunch. 22 April 2014. Archived from the original on 2017-07-06.
  5. ^ Hakim, Danny (2 December 2014). "Once Celebrated in Russia, the Programmer Pavel Durov Chooses Exile". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d Vivienne Walt (February 2016). "With Telegram, A Reclusive Social Media Star Rises Again". Fortune. Archived from the original on February 24, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "ExoAtlet CEO Ekaterina Bereziy named Young Global Leader by World Economic Forum". 16 May 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-05-17.
  8. ^ a b "Young Global Leaders class of 2017". Archived from the original on 29 June 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  9. ^ Наградной лист Тулякова Семёна Петровича (in Russian). Вконтакте. 8 May 2015. Archived from the original on 29 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Фронтовой приказ № 692/н от 15.06.1945, страница 2". Электронный банк документов «Подвиг народа в Великой Отечественной войне 1941—1945 гг.». Archived from the original on 2012-03-13. Retrieved 2016-05-25.
  11. ^ "Туляков Семен Петрович". Электронный банк документов «Подвиг народа в Великой Отечественной войне 1941—1945 гг.». Archived from the original on 2012-03-13. Retrieved 2016-05-25.
  12. ^ Николай Валуев объявил бойкот сети "ВКонтакте" (in Russian). 2012-05-10. Archived from the original on 2012-11-20. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  13. ^ Дуров Валерий Семёнович (in Russian). Филологический факультет СПбГУ. Archived from the original on 2012-12-23. Retrieved 2012-12-22.
  14. ^ "Is Pavel Durov a Kremlin target?". Bloomberg. 1 August 2013. Archived from the original on 2016-03-07.
  15. ^ "Prominent Russians: Pavel Durov". Russia Today. Archived from the original on 2013-03-06. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  16. ^ a b c "The Pavel Durov Code: Five stories from the life of VK and its creator". Forbes (in Russian). 22 November 2012. Archived from the original on 2015-04-19.
  17. ^ a b Danny Hakim (2014-12-02). "Once Celebrated in Russia, Programmer Pavel Durov Chooses Exile". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-02-08.
  18. ^ "Subscribe to read". Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2017. Cite uses generic title (help)
  19. ^ "Russia's Mail.Ru buys remaining stake in VKontakte for $1.5 bln". Reuters. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  20. ^ "No joke as 'Russian Facebook' founder resigns amid dispute (Update)". 1 April 2014. Archived from the original on 2016-03-08. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
    "Pavel Durov Resigns As Head Of Russian Social Network, Ukraine Conflict Was The Tipping Point". 1 April 2014. Archived from the original on 2017-07-08. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  21. ^ "Going, going, gone - Pavel Durov quits VK". Rusbase. 2 April 2014. Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  22. ^ "Founder of Social Network VK Pavel Durov Says Resignation as CEO was April Fools' Prank". The Moscow Times. 2016-03-04. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  23. ^ "Wall". Archived from the original on 9 February 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  24. ^ "Wall". Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  25. ^ a b c "Vkontakte Founder Pavel Durov Learns He's Been Fired Through Media"". The Moscow Times. 22 April 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-04-25.
  26. ^ a b c "Pavel Durov left Russia after being pushed out", The Economic Times, 22 April 2014.
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Pavel Durov". Archived from the original on 16 February 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  29. ^ Дуров затроллил православных: Теме надо было писать "Бог" с большой буквы,, 2012, archived from the original on 2016-08-05
  30. ^ Горелик А. (2012-02-17). "Владелец ВКонтакте Павел Дуров раздает миллионы и ездит по Питеру на метро" (in Russian). Комсомольская правда. Archived from the original on 2014-05-23. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  31. ^ Ермаков А. (2014-04-24). ""Фонтанка" нашла Дурову страну". Фонтанка.ру. Archived from the original on 2014-04-25. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  32. ^ "A Manifesto for 21st-Century Russia". Afisha. 18 May 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-09-03.
  33. ^ "Founder of Facebook for Russia donates $1M to Wikipedia at DLD". VentureBeat. 24 January 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-07-22.
  34. ^ Lamb, Brian (September 25, 2005). "Q&A: Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder". C-SPAN. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 31, 2006.
  35. ^ "Pavel Durov, Russian Millionaire, Throws Money Paper Planes Onto Passersby". The Huffington Post. 30 May 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-07-26.
  36. ^ "Pavel Durov the Most Promising Northern European Leader Under the Age of 30". Nordic Business Forum. 21 August 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-08-26.
  37. ^ "Telegram's Durov Awarded In Kazakhstan For Standing Against Censorship". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 21 June 2018. Archived from the original on 2018-06-22.
  38. ^ "Pavel Durov". Fortune. 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2018-07-30.

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