Belarusian security forces turned to Yandex

According to Yandex, the armed men who conducted searches in its offices in Minsk on August 13 introduced themselves as employees of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption (GUBOPiK) of Belarus, but they could not provide grounds for the search. The security agencies of Belarus deny the involvement of their employees in the searches, while Russian diplomats are awaiting an explanation. Meanwhile, the Russian car-sharing service Anytime temporarily refused to work in the country.

On August 13, armed men blocked the offices of Yandex and Uber (the brand belongs to Yandex in Belarus) in Minsk. As the press service of Yandex later explained, those conducting the searches introduced themselves as employees of the GUBOPiK of Belarus (refers to the structures of the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs). However, the reasons for the search were not detailed in the protocols.

No equipment or documents were seized. At the end of the search, the employees did not detain, ”added Yandex.

The law enforcement agencies of Belarus themselves did not confirm the involvement of their employees in the searches. The management of the Investigative Committee for Minsk, the Minsk City Executive Committee’s Internal Affairs Directorate and the State Control Committee of Belarus denied that searches in the Minsk offices of Yandex were carried out by their employees, Interfax reported, citing representatives of these departments.

Now Yandex offices are unlocked. The Russian embassy has been informed about the incident and expects to receive “detailed information in connection with the situation that has arisen,” Interfax reports, citing a representative of the embassy. “Kommersant” failed to contact the office of the Internet company in Minsk.

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Yandex’s Minsk office is represented mainly by developers. They are engaged in such products as search, mail, advertising, maps, etc. According to the industry portal dev.by, about 250 people work in Yandex’s Minsk office. But almost all of them are now working remotely, the Yandex press service said.

Telegram channels and social networks also reported that against the background of these events, the developer of computer games Wargaming invited his employees to leave the office. However, the press service of the Kommersant company said that the evacuation had not been carried out, and Wargaming employees have been working remotely for a long time. At the same time, according to the industry portal App2Top, in the closed group Minsk News, the founder and CEO of Wargaming Viktor Kislyi told employees that now the company is forming a plan for “the possible relocation of some employees and their families to other countries in case of force majeure, not depending on the company “.

At the same time, the Anytime car-sharing service, owned by the owners of the Russian Delimobil, announced a temporary refusal to work in Belarus. “We cannot continue to work in this situation. Therefore, our cars are temporarily unavailable for rent, ”the Onliner.by edition quotes the message received by users. Delimobil’s press service declined to comment.

Director of the Russian Association for Electronic Communications Sergei Plugotarenko said in connection with the searches that the association considers such an intersection of politics and business unacceptable, especially any forceful pressure on high-tech companies.

As a rule, such pressure and interference in the affairs of companies end negatively for those who exert this influence, ”said Mr. Plugotarenko.

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According to Internet Ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev, searches in the Belarusian “Yandex” may be associated with a kind of “retrograde understanding of what is happening”, when the authorities are trying to get access to the “telegraph”, which “is meaningless in this form”. It is unlikely that the company itself is now thinking about any serious retaliatory steps, he suggested, now it is rather concerned only with the health of its employees.

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