Two weeks after the Ukrainian authorities banned leading Russian Internet sites as part of sanctions affecting 468 Russian legal entities, Yandex announced that the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) conducted searches at the company’s offices in Kiev and Odessa.
Yandex.Ukraine management and employees are accused of having gathered personal data of Ukrainian users and transmitted them to Russian security services.
According to the SBU press service, the data was submitted to the Russian special services “to plan, organize and perform intelligence assessment, sabotage and subversion to compromise Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and inviolability.”
The pre-trial investigation has been conductedT under Article 111 (treason) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. SBU has seized servers and documentation which will be studied to check the facts.
The Russian search giant dismisses the SBU’s allegations: “Neither our employees in Ukraine nor the management of Yandex.Ukraine have access to personal data of Yandex users. Our users are central to everything we do and we have always fiercely protected our users’ data privacy. We implement strong security measures across all of our services to ensure both the anonymity of users and the confidential transfer of sensitive data. All data is stored securely across Yandex data centers and the aforementioned investigation does not affect the security of user data.”
“We implement strong security measures across all of our services to ensure both the anonymity of users and the confidential transfer of sensitive data. All data is stored securely across Yandex data centers and the aforementioned investigation does not affect the security of user data,” the Russian company added.
Yandex claims to always “comply with strict legal procedures for information requests by local authorities” in the countries where it operates. According to these procedures, a proper court decision is required for any such request, Yandex reminds, and “the allegations that our employees were transmitting personal data to Russian security forces have no merit.”
The Russian company, which had been developing its services in Ukraine since 2005, has “undertaken all appropriate measures to ensure the safety of our team.”
Nearly 11 million Ukrainian users of Yandex online services, as well as thousands of client organizations, have been affected by the ban.