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ISW: Kremlin aims to crypto-nationalize internet giant Yandex, bolstering control for 2024 presidential election

by Olena Goncharova August 11, 2023 5:43 AM 1 min read
The Yandex logo seen at the companys headquarters in Moscow. (Photo by Vlad Karkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Russian internet company Yandex has likely been trying to balance between the Kremlin and its foreign governing bodies but now appears to be losing the battle to the Kremlin, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest update.

The Kremlin appears to be forcing Yandex to sell or distance itself from international subsidiaries, including rideshare service Yango Israel, in order to comply with strict Russian data disclosure laws requiring Yandex to supply all user data – not just data of users in Russia – to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

The Russian government has previously fined Yandex for failing to comply with this law despite Yandex’s statements that it is unable to provide the requested data. Yandex CEO Artem Savinovsky was also fined for Yandex’s failure to comply with Russian censorship laws, possibly trying to compel Yandex into complying with Russian censorship laws not just in Russia but globally to undermine its global operations and userbase.

Some Russian insider sources speculated that Yandex corporate development advisor Alexey Kudrin attempted and failed to turn Yandex into a national private company that Putin’s reported personal banker Yuri Kovalchuk would control.

Yandex founder and former CEO Arkady Volozh publicly decried the invasion of Ukraine on Aug. 10, and some Russian insider sources speculated that Volozh’s statement was a “white flag” showing that he had accepted that the Kremlin would likely go forward with its speculated formal nationalization effort.

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