Arkady Volozh, the founder of Russia's largest tech company Yandex, has denounced Russia's invasion of Ukraine in a statement provided to The Bell by his press service. Like most major Russian businessmen, Volozh had previously remained silent on the issue.
Volozh has been criticized since the beginning of the war for his lack of a clear position. Late last week, the criticism escalated after journalists drew attention to Volozh's personal website, where he described himself as a "Kazakh-born Israeli entrepreneur."
Here's the entire text:
"Many questions have been asked of me over the last year, but especially this week. I want to make my position clear, and I am writing this in English and Russian because it’s important to me for this to be heard by all sides.
My view on the war
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is barbaric, and I am categorically against it. I am horrified about the fate of people in Ukraine – many of them my personal friends and relatives – whose houses are being bombed every day.
Although I moved to Israel in 2014, I have to take my share of responsibility for the country’s actions.
My Yandex story
I am known as one of the founders of Yandex. In our minds, when we founded it, we weren’t only creating a technology company. We were helping to create a new Russia – open, progressive, integrated into the global economy, and able to bring value to the world beyond natural resources.
Yandex was made possible thanks to the unbelievable engineering and tech talent that we were able to attract, retain and cultivate.
We were not the only ones that were building this new Russia. Many other Russian entrepreneurs, scientists and others who could have left Russia in the 1990s decided to stay and build the country we wanted to see. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Many international companies, businessmen and entrepreneurs came to Russia to be part of this.
Over time it was increasingly clear that the hope to build a globally integrated Russia was becoming harder to achieve. Аt the same time, there were growing pressures on the company. But we didn’t give up, we did the best we could, even as the environment became harder. Was the right balance always found? In hindsight, I understand some things could have been done differently.
What have I been doing this past year and a half
In 2014, I moved to Israel to develop the company’s international projects. But in February 2022, the world changed and I realised that my role in the Yandex story had come to an end.
Since the start of the war, I have been focused on trying to support the talented Russian engineers who took a decision to leave the country. It has been an extraordinarily complex process, helping these engineers to start a new life. It has required focus, care and discretion.
These people are now out, and in a position to start something new, continuing to drive technological innovation. They will be a tremendous asset to the countries in which they land.
* * *
There were reasons to stay silent during this long process. While there will anyway be questions about the timing of my statement today, there should be no questions about its essence. I am against the war.