The great-nephew of the billionaire and close friend of Vladimir Putin, Yuri Kovalchuk, Stepan became the head of the VKontakte and Odnoklassniki social networks, as well as all VK group services related to content. This was reported in a press release from the company.
VK Group, which since 2021 has been headed by the son of Vladimir Kiriyenko, First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, announced the division of the business into two business groups. One of them – Social Platforms and Media Content – which Kovalchuk will head, in addition to the social networks VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, will include the Zen news aggregator, as well as VK services Video, Music, Clips and Messenger.
As the Financial Times journalists wrote in February, it was Stepan Kovalchuk's great-uncle Yuri who “inspired Putin with the idea of his historical mission.” Yuri Kovalchuk is a co-owner of the Sogaz insurance group and the Rossiya bank. In 2022, Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $1.3 billion.
As Novaya rasskazh-gazeta wrote, Stepan Kovalchuk's grandfather, Mikhail, also “seriously influences the Russian president's natural-science outlook.” In 2015, Mikhail Kovalchuk, speaking before the Federation Council, told senators about genetic experiments aimed at breeding a “service man” – a subspecies of Homo sapiens.
Stepan Kovalchuk's father Kirill from 2012 to 2014 headed the board of directors of the National Media Group (NMG), later giving way to Putin's probable mistress Alina Kabaeva. NMG owns shares in Channel One, Channel Five, REN TV, STS, Izvestia and other Russian media.