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Russian President Vladimir Putin heads the Security Council meeting in Moscow. Photo: Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Yuri Milner, a Russian venture capitalist, made investments in Facebook and Twitter while they were still private with the help of funds linked to Russia's government, according to documents obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and reviewed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and several news outlets.

  • Facebook: Gazprom Investholding, a subsidiary of the Kremlin-controlled natural gas company, provided funds to an offshore investment company, which in turn partnered with DST Global for its Facebook investment in 2009. DST has since sold its stake in the social network.
  • Twitter: Russian state-controlled bank VTB poured $191 million into one of DST's funds, which helped purchase a stake in Twitter in 2011. DST has since sold its stake.

Thought bubble: There's no doubt that this revelation is bad news for the social media companies as they face questions from Congress over Russia's influence over last year's U.S. presidential elections. And both VTB and Gazprom's parent company are under U.S. sanctions. However, as the ICIJ and partner media outlets note, there's no evidence that DST helped the Russian government gain influence over the social media companies.

Update: DST Global issued a long statement following the publication of the investigation. Read it in the New York Times.

Go deeper

44 mins ago - Health

WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release"

A medical syringe and vial with fake coronavirus vaccine in front of the World Health Organization (WHO) logo. Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Top scientists at the World Health Organization on Friday called for more detailed information on a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca have said the vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses. AstraZeneca has since acknowledged that the smaller dose received by some participants was the result of an error by a contractor, per the New York Times.

Court rejects Trump campaign's appeal in Pennsylvania case

Photo: Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday unanimously rejected the Trump campaign's emergency appeal seeking to file a new lawsuit against Pennsylvania's election results, writing in a blistering ruling that the campaign's "claims have no merit."

Why it matters: It's another devastating blow to President Trump's sinking efforts to overturn the results of the election. Pennsylvania, which President-elect Joe Biden won by more than 80,000 votes, certified its results last week and is expected to award 20 electoral votes to Biden on Dec. 12.

Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Belarus dictator Lukashenko says he'll leave post after new constitution

Photo: Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty

Longtime Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has said he will step down after a new constitution comes into force, according to Belarusian state media.

Why it matters: Lukashenko has faced three months of protests following a rigged election in August. He has promised to reform the constitution to reduce the near-absolute powers of the president, but has insisted that his strong hand is needed to see that process through.