ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 139

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Yandex is Russia's top internet firm, favorite search engine

Israel-based founder of Russian tech giant Yandex slams ‘barbaric war’ in Ukraine

Although entrepreneur Arkady Volozh moved to Israel in 2014, he says he must accept ‘share of responsibility for Russia’s actions’

File: Former Yandex CEO Arkady Volozh attends a panel discussion as part of the Artificial Intelligence Journey (AIJ) forum, in Moscow on November 9, 2019. (Sergei Guneyev/Sputnik/AFP)
File: Former Yandex CEO Arkady Volozh attends a panel discussion as part of the Artificial Intelligence Journey (AIJ) forum, in Moscow on November 9, 2019. (Sergei Guneyev/Sputnik/AFP)

The Israel-based founder of Russian tech giant Yandex on Thursday described Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine as “barbaric,” making him one of few prominent Russian-linked businessmen to speak out against the conflict.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is barbaric, and I am categorically against it,” Arkady Volozh, who holds dual Russian-Israeli citizenship, said in a statement.

“I am horrified about the fate of people in Ukraine — many of them my personal friends and relatives — whose houses are being bombed every day,” Volozh said. “I am against the war.”

Volozh was born in the then-Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1964 to a Russian Jewish family.

Both he and his parents moved to Israel in 2014. Volozh resigned as CEO of Yandex and stepped down from the board of directors in June last year after he was targeted by EU sanctions.

“Although I moved to Israel in 2014, I have to take my share of responsibility for the country’s actions,” his statement read.

Russia’s internet search engine Yandex’s logo on a laptop screen, in Moscow, Russia, October 12, 2021. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP)

Yandex, Russia’s top internet company and most popular search engine, faced months of instability after the start of the conflict, with many employees leaving the country.

Approached by AFP, Yandex said it was unable to comment.

In December, a long-time ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Alexei Kudrin, said he would join the group as a corporate development adviser to oversee operations.

In recent years, Russian authorities have steadily ramped up control over the internet — once considered the last bastion of free speech in the country.

All major media organizations are already either state-owned or closely toe the Kremlin line.

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