“This part of the story is hard to understand until you have worked at Yandex. You see, they believe in only one thing—objectivity, elevated to the absolute,” RBC quoted
Aleхander Larianovskiy, who has worked as the director of Yandex for regional development for more than four years.Yandex and the Kremlin’s Cybersecurity Concerns
Within the company, the atmosphere had also always been free and informal. Employers received benefits in the form of Yandex shares, the company was “hip” and democratic, and it was regarded as a privilege for both people from the IT sector as well as managers to be working there.
Over the decades, the Russian government had always paid close attention to what was happening to Russia’s most successful tech player. As early as in 1999, Volozh was one of the few representatives of RuNet who was invited to a meeting with Russia’s soon-to-be president, Vladimir Putin. Gritsenko, Wijermas, and Kopotev, in their introduction to The Palgrave Handbook of Digital Russia Studies,
state that Putin promised the IT sector a decade of “free development.” The meetings continued through the years: with Dmitriy Medvedev in 2012, with Putin once again in 2014, and culminating with the Russian president’s visit to the platform’s offices in 2017
. For the increasingly authoritarian Russian regime, controlling the Internet has become a question of regime survival. An idea of a “sovereign Internet” has been in the air since Putin called the world wide web a “CIA project”
in 2014. Riding this wave of “cyberspace security,” state-owned Rostelecom, the largest provider of digital services in Russia, tried to create its own search engine, Sputnik, but failed, despite billions of dollars in investments.