Yandex has registered a holding company Beyond ML in the US and Armenia in order to circumvent the sanctions imposed on Russia because of the war in Ukraine, the RTVI channel found out. The press service of Yandex confirmed to Kommersant that Beyond ML is a company project to promote B2B services and technologies, while it is called not a means of circumventing sanctions, but an “internal experiment”.
The Beyond ML website says it's a venture studio for machine learning (ML) startups. In addition to its headquarters in Yerevan, Beyond also has offices in New York, Belgrade and Seville.
In addition, Beyond ML owns ten tech ML startups around the world, but only six are listed on the official website. RTVI found that 10 companies indicated on their websites that they are owned/controlled or operated by Beyond ML.
The company is registered with Yandex top managers Maxim Zagrebin and Dmitry Stepanov. Some Yandex employees were directly told that Beyond was created to level "country risks" and continue to work in Europe and the United States, RTVI claims. In November, on HeadHunter, Yandex posted a vacancy for a product manager in one of the startups - Lawrify.
In June, Yandex co-founder Arkady Volozh left all positions at Yandex and resigned from the board of directors. The decision was made after its inclusion in the EU sanctions lists and the fall of Yandex shares on the stock exchange by almost 14%. The European Union, as part of the sixth package of sanctions, included Volozh in the expanded list.
A Russian woman who received an anti-war mailing on Yandex.Mail told The Insider that she had found similar emails in her Spam folder. In March, Lev Gershenzon, ex-head of Yandex.News, accused the Yandex.News service of hushing up news about the war in Ukraine. In his opinion, it is precisely because of this that some Russians may believe that there is no war, and the company is a key element in hiding information about the war. The company has already got rid of Yandex.News and Zen, the buyer was VK, whose CEO in 2021 was appointed the son of the deputy head of the Presidential Administration, Vladimir Kiriyenko. Now, only pro-government media are displayed in the top news of Yandex on the main page. Approximately 10% of Yandex employees (about 2 thousand people) have left the Russian Federation since the beginning of the war, while there are no mass layoffs, a source close to the leadership explained to The Insider.