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Yandex, Dubbed “Russia’s Google,” to Withdraw from Russia

The owner of Yandex, often likened to “Russia’s Google,” has announced its decision to withdraw from its home country.

The Dutch-based parent company has sold its Russian operations for 475 billion roubles ($5.2bn; £4.2bn), a figure significantly lower than its estimated market value.

The sale, completed to a consortium of investors, signifies that Yandex’s Russian business is now entirely owned by Russian entities.

Previously, the company faced accusations of withholding information about the conflict in Ukraine from the Russian public.

The deal has been welcomed in Moscow, with the company describing it as the result of extensive planning and negotiation over 18 months.

“This is exactly what we wanted to achieve a few years ago when Yandex was under threat of being taken over by Western IT giants,” remarked Anton Gorelkin, deputy head of the Russian parliament’s committee on information policy. “Yandex is more than a company, it is an asset of the entire Russian society,” he added.

Established during the dotcom boom in the late 1990s, Yandex developed its own search engine, mapping, advertising businesses, as well as services like taxis and food delivery.

Despite being dubbed “Russia’s Google,” Yandex has no affiliation with the US search engine giant or its parent company, Alphabet.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, numerous foreign-owned businesses have exited the country, often selling assets under unfavorable terms. President Vladimir Putin also ordered the seizure of assets belonging to Western brands such as Danone and Carlsberg.

Arkady Volozh, Yandex’s co-founder, is one of the few top Russia-linked businessmen to have publicly criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He left the firm in 2022 and has been sanctioned by the European Union.

In compliance with Russian government demands regarding its content, Yandex sold some online resources to state-controlled rival VK in late 2022.

Despite presenting itself as independent of authorities, experiments conducted by BBC Monitoring in 2022 revealed that Yandex’s search results failed to report Russian atrocities in the Ukrainian city of Bucha. Source: BBC

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