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Report: Jewish CEO of ‘Russia’s Google’ leaves country for Israel over war

‘I cannot work in a country that is at war with its neighbors,’ Yandex’s Bunina is said to have written before moving

Elena Bunina, a Russian-Jew who was CEO of Russia's most popular search engine website, until stepping down and moving to Israel amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Wikimedia Commons/Ilya Vartanian/Yandex Company)
Elena Bunina, a Russian-Jew who was CEO of Russia's most popular search engine website, until stepping down and moving to Israel amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Wikimedia Commons/Ilya Vartanian/Yandex Company)

Elena Bunina, a Russian-Jew who in recent years headed top Russian tech company Yandex, has stepped down as the firm’s CEO and has moved to Israel due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, according to media reports.

Last week, Reuters reported that Bunina has decided to step down as chief executive of Yandex LLC, Russia’s largest tech company that has been dubbed “Russia’s Google,” two weeks before her tenure was set to expire.

The report did not specify the reasons behind Bunina’s sudden departure from the company, where she had served as CEO since 2017.

Following her departure from Russia, Russian media shared an unconfirmed screenshot of a statement she allegedly made, writing in an internal company forum that she “will not return” to Russia, adding, “I cannot work in a country that is at war with its neighbors.”

On Tuesday, the Haaretz newspaper confirmed previous speculations about Bunina’s whereabouts, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of her whereabouts who said she was indeed in Israel.

Bunina had also voiced her opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the early days of the offensive, writing in a Facebook post that she was against “blood and war,” according to Haaretz.

According to one source cited by Haaretz, Bunina has been in Israel for several weeks now and does not plan on returning to Russia.

According to sources cited by The Marker, Bunina is not working at the Israeli branch of Yandex, as some reports in Russian media had previously indicated.

It was unclear whether Bunina holds Israeli citizenship or is in the process of becoming a citizen under Israel’s Law of Return.

She wouldn’t be the first Russian figure to move to Israel amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On Monday, the Ynet news site reported that Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov had recently arrived in Israel and had filed all the necessary paperwork to become an Israeli citizen.

There has been an increase in immigration from Ukraine, Russian, and Belarus since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

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