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The decline of Yandex, a Russian tech giant, reflects the domestic turmoil caused by the invasion.

What a difference a war makes.

Just a few months ago, Yandex established itself as a rare Russian business success story, transforming itself from a small start-up into a tech colossus that not only dominated search and ridesharing across Russia, but enjoyed growing global reach.

A Yandex app could hail a taxi in remote cities like Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Oslo, Norway; or Tashkent, Uzbekistan; and the company delivered groceries in London, Paris and Tel Aviv. Fifty experimental Yandex robots have moved to the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, bringing students Grubhub food orders – with plans to expand to some 250 US campuses.

Often called “Russia’s coolest company”, Yandex employed over 18,000 people; its founders were billionaires; and at its peak last November, it was worth more than $31 billion. Then Russian President Vladimir V. Putin invaded Ukraine.

Almost overnight, as Western investors left Russia and Western governments imposed harsh economic sanctions, its value fell to less than $7 billion. The Nasdaq stock exchange suspended trading in its shares.

The sudden distaste for most things Russian prompted the company to shut down various international businesses, including delivery services in London, Paris and Columbus.

Thousands of employees – almost a sixth of the total – have fled the country. Its founder, Arkady Volozh, and its chief deputy withdrew after the European Union sanctioned them both, accusing them of encouraging disinformation from the Kremlin.

The company is not facing insolvency. But his sudden change in fortune doesn’t just serve as a cautionary tale for investors in an authoritarian country dependent on the whims of a single ruler. Yandex is also emblematic of the problems facing Russian businesses in a radically changed economic landscape and the growing divisions caused by the war in society at large.

nytimes Eur

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