Owner of ‘Russia’s Google’ withdraws from homeland


Yandex, known as “Russia’s Google,” has announced its withdrawal from Russia. The Dutch-based parent company sold its Russian operation for 475 billion roubles ($5.2bn; £4.2bn), significantly lower than its estimated market value. The sale to a consortium of investors means that Yandex’s Russian business is now fully owned by Russians. The company has faced criticism in the past for allegedly hiding information about the war in Ukraine from the Russian public. The deal has been welcomed by Moscow, with Anton Gorelkin, deputy head of the Russian parliament’s committee on information policy, stating that it achieves what they wanted a few years ago when Yandex was at risk of being taken over by Western IT giants. Yandex, established in the late 1990s, offers various services including search engine, mapping, advertising, taxis, and food delivery. The $5.2bn deal is significantly lower than Yandex’s market value, which was estimated at almost $30bn in 2021. Despite being referred to as “Russia’s Google,” Yandex has no affiliation with Google or its parent company Alphabet. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many foreign-owned businesses have left the country, often selling assets at unfavorable terms. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also ordered the seizure of assets belonging to Western brands such as Danone and Carlsberg. Yandex’s co-founder, Arkady Volozh, is one of the few top Russia-linked businessmen who have publicly criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He left the company in 2022 and has faced sanctions from the European Union for Yandex’s alleged promotion of Russian state media and narratives and removal of critical content. In compliance with the Russian government’s demands, Yandex sold some of its online resources to state-controlled rival VK in late 2022. Despite claiming independence from authorities, experiments by BBC Monitoring in 2022 revealed that Yandex’s search results failed to report Russian atrocities in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.

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