The co-founder of one of Russia’s biggest tech companies has launched a rare attack on Vladimir Putin’s “barbaric” invasion of Ukraine.
Arkady Volozh, who set up Yandex in 1997, has defied the Kremlin by making an unusually forthright statement to declare he is “against the war”.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is barbaric, and I am categorically against it,” said Mr Volozh, who has tried to distance himself from his Russian roots and now lives in Israel.
“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.”
His comments make him one of the few Russian businessmen to have risked criticising the war in public.
It also pits him against the Kremlin, which has clamped down hard on dissent over the past year and a half.
A number of dissidents inside and outside Russia have suffered fatal accidents in mysterious circumstances over the past few years, while high-profile figures inside the country have been jailed on spurious charges.
Mr Volozh quit Yandex last June after he was hit with economic sanctions by the EU. Brussels said he had “materially or financially” supported the war against Ukraine.
In Thursday’s statement, he said he had been helping “talented Russian engineers” leave the country “to start a new life”, saying he had “reasons to stay silent during this long process”.
The entrepreneur is seeking to downplay his 25 years as chief executive of the Russian business, describing himself as a “Kazakhstan-born” Israeli – and Yandex as “one of the largest internet companies in Europe.”