The founder and former CEO of Russia’s largest internet company, Arkady Volozh, criticized President Vladimir Putin's "barbaric" invasion of Ukraine, becoming one of the most prominent Russian businessmen to express criticism of what Russia still calls euphemistically its "special military operation."
“I've been asked a lot of questions over the past year, and especially a lot of them came up this week. I would like to clarify my position," Volozh said in a statement released to the media.
"I am totally against Russia's barbaric invasion of Ukraine, where I, like many, have friends and relatives. I am horrified by the fact that every day bombs fly into the homes of Ukrainians," said Volozh, describing himself "as a "Kazakhstan-born, Israeli tech entrepreneur, computer scientist, investor, and philanthropist."
"Despite the fact that I have not lived in Russia since 2014, I understand that I also have a share of responsibility for the actions of the country," he added. "There were many reasons why I had to remain silent. You can argue about the timeliness of my statement, but not about its substance. I am against war."
In June 2022, Volozh quit as CEO of Yandex, which also operates Russia's most popular search engine, after he was sanctioned by the European Union over Russia's actions in Ukraine.
"Volozh is a leading businessperson involved in economic sectors providing a substantial source of revenue to the Government of the Russian Federation, which is responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of Ukraine," the EU said. "Yandex is also responsible for promoting State media and narratives in its search results, and de-ranking and removing content critical of the Kremlin, such as content related to Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine."
In his statement, Volozh said after moving to Israel in 2014, he has been working on developing Yandex's international projects. "But in February 2022, the world changed, and I realized that my story with Yandex was over."
"After the outbreak of the war, I focused on supporting talented Russian engineers who decided to leave the country and start a new life. It turned out to be a difficult task that required a lot of effort, attention and caution," he said.
Read more about Volozh's comments here.