In a late-night discussion, Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin discussed the future of internet company Yandex, according to three people with knowledge of the situation who spoke to Reuters on Friday.
According to sources who spoke to Reuters, Kudrin, a longtime friend and colleague of the president and one of the nation’s top economic leaders, is anticipated to quit his position as chairman of the Russian Audit Chamber to join Yandex.
The future of the company, which dominates Russia’s online search and ride-hailing markets, but also has several operations abroad, has been the subject of speculation in Russian media in recent months.
Two of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak freely, said Putin and Kudrin had discussed Yandex.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said he could not confirm whether the meeting had taken place or not.
“Kudrin is someone who the company feel is a good person to navigate this because he is liberal enough to understand that Russia needs a private internet company, free from nationalisation, and who has credibility in Putin’s eyes,” one of the sources said.
Since Russia launched what it refers to as a “special military operation” in Ukraine in late February, Nasdaq-listed Yandex, often referred to as ‘Russia’s Google’, has grappled with domestic pressure on one side and its Western investors on the other.
Yandex did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.