Europe Lifts Sanctions on Yandex Cofounder Arkady Volozh

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Arkady Volozh, nan billionaire cofounder of Russia's biggest net company, was removed from nan EU sanctions database today, clearing nan measurement for his return to nan world of world tech.

On Tuesday a spokesperson for nan European Council confirmed to WIRED that nan Yandex cofounder was among 3 group whose sanctions were lifted this week.

Volozh, 60, was initially included connected nan EU sanctions database successful June 2023, pursuing Russia’s full-scale penetration of Ukraine successful February 2022. “Volozh is simply a starring businessperson progressive successful economical sectors providing a important root of gross to nan Government of nan Russian Federation,” nan bloc said past twelvemonth to warrant its decision. “As laminitis and CEO of Yandex, he is supporting, materially aliases financially, nan Government of nan Russian Federation.” In response, Volozh stepped down from his position arsenic Yandex CEO, calling nan sanctions “misguided.”

Three months later, Volozh, who has been surviving successful Israel since 2014, became 1 of nan fewer prolific Russian businessmen to speak retired against nan Kremlin’s actions successful Ukraine, describing nan warfare arsenic “barbaric.” “I americium horrified astir nan destiny of group successful Ukraine—many of them my individual friends and relatives—whose houses are being bombed each day,” he said successful a connection successful August.

Founded arsenic a hunt motor successful 1997, Yandex became known arsenic “Russia’s Google” because nan institution ​​was ubiquitous successful nan mundane life of millions of Russians. There is Yandex Music for streaming. Yandex Navigator for maps. And Yandex Go for hailing a ride. Although Volozh stepped down arsenic CEO successful June 2023, he continues to clasp 8.5 percent economical liking successful Yandex’s Dutch genitor company, Yandex NV, done a family trust.

Over nan past 18 months, Yandex NV has been progressive successful nan analyzable negotiations pinch the Kremlin, successful an effort to waste its Russian operations while carving retired 4 Europe-based units, which see businesses focused connected self-driving cars, unreality computing, information labelling and acquisition tech.

Last month, Yandex NV announced it had reached a “binding agreement” pinch Russia to waste its operations successful nan state to a section consortium for 475-billion-rouble ($5.2bn) successful a rate and shares deal. Yandex NV, erstwhile worthy $30 cardinal astatine its peak, said that nan value included a “mandatory discount of astatine slightest 50 percent” nether Russian authorities rules that use to nan waste of Russian assets by companies based successful countries considered to beryllium “unfriendly” by nan Kremlin, including nan Netherlands.

The removal of sanctions affecting 1 of Russian tech’s astir salient figures will beryllium particularly important if Volozh goes connected to build Yandex 2.0 wrong Europe. The billionaire maintains beardown ties to exiled Russian tech talent, pinch thousands of Yandex unit leaving nan state aft nan commencement of nan war. "These group are now out, and successful a position to commencement thing new, continuing to thrust technological innovation," Volozh said successful nan aforesaid 2023 statement. "They will beryllium a tremendous plus to nan countries successful which they land."

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