A founder of Russia’s largest technology company condemned his country’s war in Ukraine on Thursday, a rare step among Russian presidents caught between Western sanctions and fears of domestic retaliation.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is barbaric and I categorically oppose it,” Arkady Volozh, who ran Yandex, known as Russia’s Google until last year, said in a statement. “I have to play my part in the affairs of the country,” he said, without giving further details.
59 year old Mr. Volozh resigned as chief executive of Yandex and stepped down from the company’s board last year after the European Union imposed sanctions “economically or financially” for supporting the invasion. Yandex’s news aggregator service has been accused of blocking anti-war content, which the company has defended as complying with Russia’s increasingly strict information laws.
His comments made him only the second Russian businessman to be allowed to take a clear public stance against the invasion. Last month, following a legal battle, Mr.
Many, including billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska, Mr.
President Vladimir V. Mr. Voloz’s report has arrived.
A series of Western sanctions against Mr. Failing to divide Putin’s power base, opposition politicians and anti-war activists have begun to publicly discuss new ways to encourage mainstream Russians to speak out against the invasion. These efforts include lobbying Western governments to lift sanctions against those who have taken a clear stand against the conflict.
Yandex sold its news aggregator service after Mr. Volozh was placed under EU sanctions. Mr. Volozh called the sanctions against him “the wrong way around.”
Over the past year, Yandex’s Dutch parent has been trying to divest its core Russian businesses, including the country’s dominant Internet search engine and taxi-hailing service, from subsidiaries focused on artificial intelligence, which it hopes to relocate overseas.
The company said it expects the deal to close by the end of 2023, subject to Kremlin approval. Mr. It’s unclear how Voloz’s report might affect its progress.
Mr. Although Volozh has no formal ties to the company, he retains 8.5 percent of its shares, worth about $500 million based on their last trading price in New York. (The Nasdaq stock market suspended Yandex and other Russian-based stocks after the invasion).
Mr. Volozhin’s statement was received with caution by some of Russia’s largely exiled political opposition.
“Does this statement pass as a ‘declarative confession’? Of course not,” wrote Leonid Volkov, a close associate of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei A. Navalny, on the Telegram messaging app. “But here, it’s very important to support the first, most difficult step in the right direction.”
Mr. Navalny’s group has adopted a more uncompromising stance toward the Russians, who have backed Mr. They have released a list of 7,000 people they believe should be financially punished by foreign governments for supporting Putin’s war.
Oleg Matsnev Contributed report.