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Reuters: EU to remove Yandex co-founder from Russian sanctions list

by Kateryna Denisova February 21, 2024 9:04 PM 1 min read
Arkady Volozh gives a speech during the Artifical Intelligence Journey (AIG) in Moscow, Russia on Nov. 9, 2019. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
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EU countries agreed to remove Arkady Volozh, co-founder of Russia's most popular search engine Yandex, from the list of sanctions against entities and individuals associated with Russia's war against Ukraine, Reuters reported on Feb. 21, citing three unnamed sources familiar with the discussions.

The EU sanctioned Volozh in June 2022, arguing that his company serves the interests of the Russian government and promotes pro-Kremlin media and narratives, as well as censors content critical of the regime.

In late August 2023, the Financial Times reported that Volozh had made a formal request for the EU to lift its sanctions against him.

According to Reuters, Yandex’s co-founder is one of three people who finally will be removed after Mar. 15 when the sanctions regime is prolonged. The sanctions are discussed and renewed every six months.

Volozh also intends to break ties with Yandex's Russian business after a consortium of investors agreed to buy the Russian assets of the Dutch holding company Yandex NV in early February, Reuters reported.

He owns an 8.5% stake in Yandex NV through a family trust, although he has no voting rights in the company.

In August 2023, Volozh publicly spoke out against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, calling it "barbaric" after remaining silent since the beginning of the all-out war.

He has been recently presenting himself as an "Israeli entrepreneur born in Kazakhstan" in his online biography, omitting his Russian ties.

Following the sanctions, Volozh resigned as the CEO of Yandex and from other senior positions in its subsidiaries. The company also sold its news services to the state-controlled social media platform VK.

The company has also clashed with the Russian authorities. Last year in June, a Russian court fined Yandex 2 million rubles ($20,500) for repeatedly refusing to provide Russia's security services with information about its users.

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