Russian media company buys online community LiveJournal

SUP, a Russian media company, has bought online blog community site LiveJournal from San Francisco blog company Six Apart.

LiveJournal claims to have more than 18 million unique visitors per month, worldwide, with 28 percent coming from Russia. Six Apart previously cut a deal with SUP in 2006, where SUP was allowed to manage LiveJournal in Russia.

The links between Russia and Silicon Valley are growing, along with Russia’s economy. We’ve recently covered the increasing number of venture capitalists investing in Russia, hoping to fund the country’s well-trained technical workforce in building high-tech companies.

However, there are political issues. Critics slammed SixApart in 2006 for ceding control to SUP over LiveJournal in Russia. LiveJournal had by then become a main venue for free speech in Russia. SUP, as this International Herald Tribute article details, has deep connections to the Russian government. The Russian government, in turn, is regularly accused of pressuring media outlets to provide it with favorable coverage.

As part of this latest deal, SUP has sought to address such criticism through the creation of an outside advisory board that will include LiveJournal founder Brad Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick founded LiveJournal in 1999 and sold to Six Apart in 2005. He left SixApart for Google earlier this year. Here’s SUP’s description of what the advisory board’s role will be:

The Advisory Board will represent the users, offering you a voice and a forum regarding your role on LiveJournal, as well as LiveJournal’s role in the online world. It will be independent of the LiveJournal, Inc. management team and will oversee issues such as honoring LiveJournal’s community traditions, ensuring privacy, creating user policy and protecting security.