Russia’s Google caught between two worlds as it seeks media offload | WARC | The Feed
You didn’t return any results. Please clear your filters.
Russia’s Google caught between two worlds as it seeks media offload
Yandex is the dominant search engine in Russia, which draws comparisons to Google given its multiple interests beyond just search, but now two factors – the Russian regime’s tightened control over media and the possibility of sanctions – are forcing the company to make profound changes.
Why it matters
Ever since Russia’s hideous invasion of Ukraine, the Russian state has clamped down extra hard on the country’s media – any mentions of ‘war’ rather than ‘special military operation’ were penalised, for instance.
For the NASDAQ-traded Yandex, which harbours ambitions of international expansion (especially in delivery, pictured), the company’s alleged proximity to the Kremlin is a big problem – and it appears to want out.
Ultimately, it presents a stark question facing non-Russian brands: is it possible to do business with any major Russian company with the expectation that they be neutral?
It is, however, deeply sad to watch the internet break apart, with western social networks either banned or curtailed in Russia, replaced to some extent by a series of copycats. For more on this, MIT Tech Review has published an essay looking at the possibility of a “Splinternet”.
In an in-depth report on TechCrunch, the core of the story lies in the confirmation that Yandex is “in the last stages” of discussions to sell its media division, including the aggregator Yandex News and Yandex Zen, a blog site with a recommendation algorithm.
As things stand, VK (FKA VKontakt) is regarded as a likely buyer. VK is widely known as the Russian Facebook and is understood to have strong links with the Kremlin in its parent ownership structure.
This said, Yandex sources that spoke to TechCrunch have noted that a sale was considered some years ago but the complexity of disintegrating the firm’s different products was too much. Now, however, stringent new regulations on spreading “false” news about the invasion which carry hefty sentences, present a big problem not only for bloggers on Yandex Zen but also for Yandex itself.
In an explanation on its list of Russians facing sanctions, the EU cited accusations from the firm’s former head of news that Yandex was a “key element in hiding information” from Russians about the war in Ukraine.
In addition, Yandex has “been warning Russian users looking for news about Ukraine on its search engine of unreliable information on the internet, after the Russian Government threatened Russian media over what they publish”, the EU says.
Soon after the publication, the company announced that the named executive, deputy CEO Tigran Khudaverdyan, was leaving the company. Khudaverdyan is said to have attended a meeting in the Kremlin in late February.
Sourced from TechCrunch, EU, MIT Tech Review, Yandex
Email this content