Russia’s Yandex sells news and blogging services as state tightens control over online media

In a transaction that would expand direct state control over the news that many Russians view online, the largest internet firm in Russia will sell off its news and blogging services to the state-controlled social media site VK.

Yandex.ru’s main page, which was sold together with the news aggregator and Zen blogging platform, is expected to turn into a social media-style news feed managed by Gazprom-owned VK as a result of the transaction, with its chief executive being the son of a Kremlin official tasked with integrating the occupied territories of Ukraine.

News articles on Yandex were already perceived as having been deliberately selected to abstain from controversial subjects in Russia, particularly criticism of the war in Ukraine. By reducing Yandex’s exposure to politics, the sale of the company’s media holdings is reportedly an effort to protect it from the threat of western sanctions.