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Pro-Kremlin Tycoon Usmanov Buys Up Russian Social Media

A media company owned by Kremlin-friendly tycoon 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 September 16 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 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.

VKontakte's founder and former CEO Pavel Durov left Russia earlier this year, saying that Russia "is incompatible with Internet business at the moment."

By closing the deal on September 16, Mail.Ru, Durov and his former business partners agreed to drop pending lawsuits against each other.

Based on reporting by AP and ITAR-TASS