The US has slapped sanctions on Vladimir Kiriyenko, CEO of Russia's dominant social media network, VK, barring him from doing business with any US entity.
As The Verge notes, VK, formerly VKontakte, has around 70 million active monthly users in Russia and is the dominant social media platform in the country.
Kiriyenko has been CEO since 2021. The platform was created in 2006 by Pavel Durov who wanted a homemade alternative to Facebook. In 2014, he was ousted from the company by a hostile takeover from an investment fund with ties to Putin.
Durov fled Russia and focused on another project Telegram which he had launched a year before he was ousted from VK. After Durov, Boris Dobrodeyev took over as CEO of VK till 2021 before handing reins to Kiriyenko.
Kiriyenko is the son of former prime minister of Russia, Sergei Kiriyenko, who is now the first deputy chief of staff in the Putin administration. He had been in a senior executive position at Rostelecom, a national telecommunication operator. He also held board positions in various Russian banks and investment companies.
Under the new sanctions, Kiriyenko will not be able to do business with any US entity.
Meanwhile, a Russian delegation has arrived in Belarus for talks with the Ukraine government according to a Kremlin spokesperson. These will be the first attempted negotiations since Russia began military invasion on February 24.The delegation includes officials from foreign and defence ministries, and is awaiting the arrival of Ukrainian counterparts in the city of Gomel.