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The war in Ukraine sinks dream of ‘Russia’s Google’ | International

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Dubbed the “Russian Google,” Yandex is a symbol of Russian entrepreneurship and the country’s largest technology multinational. But the dream of its founder, Arkady Volosh, turned into a nightmare following his country’s nightmare. Invasion of Ukraine.

Yandex, which once competed with the Silicon Valley giant, will be dissolved. Volosh will be allowed to hold foreign assets that will not be sold, and direct Kremlin insiders will enter the company as shareholders. This decision is not made by the board of directors or the antitrust agency, President Putin of Russiahis ideas on any subject are Russian laws of the 21st century.

On November 24, Putin directed the government to introduce artificial intelligence “into all national initiatives” and called on it to promote cloud services within its borders.

Volozh has seen his company cut off from the rest of the world. EU sanctionsThe company wasn’t directly blacklisted, but the businessman was sanctioned in June, and the company has been hit hard by sanctions against Russia’s financial sector and investor flight. The listing on the U.S. stock exchange was suspended in March after the share price plummeted to $18.9, down 77% since March 2021.

Until this point, Yandex has tried to survive the war, which the board of directors severely criticizes. “War is terrifying,” Tigran Kudaverdyan, deputy chief executive of Voroji, said last March before his resignation. However, the company decided to stay out of trouble and has since removed many borders from its map service. Kremlin annexed several Ukrainian territories in September.

Faced with the prospect of a worsening political or economic crisis in Russia, Yandex is one of a number of tech companies that have relocated thousands of workers to other countries. In the summer, it announced the opening of offices in Belgrade, Serbia and Yerevan, Armenia, relocating hundreds of employees.On the other hand, Israeli dailies Haaretz announced in March that an additional 800 workers were to be deported to the Jewish state.

Considering this situation, Volosh negotiated with the Kremlin on restructuring plans.According to a Russian media site The Bell, negotiations were held with the head of the National Accounts Office and former Minister of Economy Alexei Kudrin. Volozh currently resides in Israel and has delegated voting rights under authorization from Brussels.

The parent company, Yandex NV, is registered in the Netherlands. The restructuring deal includes the creation of another major company that will take over all assets in Russia, while most foreign assets will be sold, with the exception of four strategic holdings held by Volosh. Yandex’s current management will move to a new company in Russia, albeit with some changes. The Bell When forbesAnd its founders will receive minority shares.

The aim is to ensure that the sanctions imposed on Russia do not affect its four major foreign subsidiaries: drones, cloud services, self-driving cars and education initiatives. However, it remains to be seen if European authorities will approve it. When Brussels sanctioned Vorozhi, in its statement, the multinational was not only owned by Russian state-owned banks Sberbank and VTB, but also “responsible for promoting the Russian government media narrative”. , which emphasized that the business was a “substantial source of information.” Kremlin income ”.

A tech giant ruled by the Kremlin

Yandex is not the first tech giant to be usurped by the Russian government. His Facebook in Russia, VKontakte, will be nationalized through his Gazprom in December 2021. Meanwhile, Meta’s Facebook was outlawed for inciting opposition and spreading material critical of the war.

Putin himself has no social media and is not familiar with how platforms like YouTube work. “What should I sign? I don’t know,” he said last year in response to a request from a kid who encouraged him to join his YouTube channel. Giving a speech at the Artificial Intelligence Forum, in which he issued numerous directives, including the need to include these technologies in the initiatives of all authorities, from schools to healthcare, to reduce the country’s life expectancy. I promised. As a result, he is over 80 years old.

“From 2023, we will monitor the use of artificial intelligence in the economic and social sphere,” Putin said in his speech. But he couldn’t hide his deep-seated distrust of new technology. […] First, we need to sort things out,” he said.

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