- The former head of news at Yandex, a Russian search engine giant, urged his former coworkers to quit.
- Lev Gershenzon wrote on Facebook that Yandex is hiding info about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- He urged former coworkers to “stop being accomplices to a terrible crime.”
The ex-head of news at Russia’s largest internet company has advice for his former colleagues: quit.
Lev Gershenzon worked at Yandex in various roles for four years, according to his LinkedIn profile. He took to Facebook early Tuesday morning to warn people still working at the company – which is one of the largest search engines in Russia – that it was contributing to the censorship of the country invasion into Ukraine.
“The fact that a significant part of the Russian population may believe that there is no war is the basis and driving force of this war,” Gershenzon wrote, also tagging six of his former coworkers. “Today, Yandex is a key element in hiding information about war. Every day and hour of such” news “costs human lives. And you, my former colleagues, are also responsible for this.”
Journalist Ilya Lozovsky first tweeted about the comments and translated Gershenzon’s post, which was written in Russian. Insider has also verified the translation.
Gershenzon said the costs that employees might face do not compare to the “harm that the service has been causing every day since the beginning of the war.”
“It’s not too late to stop being complicit in a terrible crime,” he wrote. “If you can’t do anything, quit.”
Gershenzon is now the CEO of a Berlin-based startup called Detectum, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Russian forces under the command of President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine last Thursday and continue to push into the country, nearing major cities and its capital, Kyiv. Putin has justified the assault with unproven claims of genocide in Ukraine.
Dozens have died, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy said he has officially applied for Ukraine to become a member of the European Union, which has already assisted the nation by sending weapons, imposing economic sanctions, and barring Russian media.
Since the invasion began, reports have surfaced of Russia orchestrating a disinformation campaign to justify its military’s actions in Ukraine. And American internet companies have been forced to grapple with its misinformation
According to Politico, a handful of Russia-backed media outlets have posted stories on Facebook and Twitter containing false claims that Ukrainian military forces were the ones who launched unprovoked assaults on Russian-allied troops.
Facebook began fact-checking and labeling content posted by four Russian state-owned media outlets. Russia responded Friday by announcing it was partially limiting access to Facebook for its citizens, alleging censorship and human rights violations.
Facebook’s parent company, Meta, TikTok, and Googles YouTube said Tuesday they were also blocking Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik for European users.
Uber, which has a partnership with Yandex’s taxi division, said Monday that it would “accelerate the sale” of its investments in the company.