Global tech companies and VCs still have hidden ties with Russia in 2022 — 7 cases and investigations

Since the beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine, the global business landscape has changed. Corporations, smaller companies, VCs, and startups all around the world were forced to take a clear stand. Most of them without doubts left aggressor countries’ markets and suspended all operations there. Some turned a blind eye and kept a neutral position, and some applied half-measures. There is also another type of businesses’ behavior, in particular, hiding their ties with Russia and basely profiting from the war.

AIN.Capital covered all those stories under the #WarInUkraine hashtag, as well as our colleagues from Ukrainian-language AIN.UA did the same under the #війна hashtag, not to let neither of those companies remain in the shadows. Both our editorial teams also provided comprehensive investigations on those global tech businesses that were tied to Russia or didn’t withdraw from its market but claimed the opposite. Here is a collection of the seven most notorious cases and investigations as of 2022.

Have we missed any cases? Let us know: [email protected]

Tech Events

Immigram won €1M at Slush. It is a Russian startup that assists Russians migrating to the UK

Russian-founded Immigram, a SaaS platform that is guiding tech workers during their relocation journey to the UK, won the Slush 100 Pitching Competition. The startup was awarded €1 million investment, coming from five top venture capital funds — Accel, General Catalyst, Lightspeed, NEA, and Northzone.

The decision of Slush to award a startup (it has a Russian team, some of whom still live in Russia), which assists Russians in escaping from Western sanctions and avoiding responsibility for the full-scale war, came the same week when Russia launched massive missile attacks on Ukrainian cities. It has deeply shocked Ukrainian and Europe’s tech community. The fact that Immigram continues to hire in Moscow, was found out by AIN.Capital and added more fuel to the flame. Read more…

Web Summit invites pro-Kremlin propagandists as speakers. They spread fakes and justify the war in Ukraine

On November 1-4, the leading tech conference Web Summit 2022 will be held in Lisbon. Each year it gathers thousands of professionals, founders, top managers of tech companies, and investors from all around the world. This year is not an exception.

“The biggest names in tech will meet at Web Summit this November”, the page with speakers said. But, and there is a big BUT as for 2022, the agenda includes the panels led by pro-Kremlin propagandists as speakers — journalist Max Blumenthal and philosopher Noam Chomsky. Read more…

Tech Companies

GitLab provides services to Russian army contractors — investigation

GitLab, an international company of Ukrainian origin, stopped sales in Russia and Belarus at the beginning of March, due to the military aggression of these two countries against Ukraine. But the company did not suspend any operations with existing clients. And, as AIN.Capital learned, the suppliers of the Russian military-industrial complex, are among them.

In particular, we are talking about the company Laboratory 50. It cooperates with enterprises of the military-industrial complex of Russia. Among its projects are combat control systems for frigates, platforms for stands, and training simulators for the Russian army personnel. Read more…

AI-chatbot Replika raised over $11M in investment from the US. Now it’s spreading Russian propaganda

Replika is a chatbot companion powered by artificial intelligence. The company positions itself as an “American startup with Russian roots”. And those roots became quite obvious after the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. Via its chatbot Replika is broadcasting Russian propaganda messages, for example, it tells that the Bucha massacre was a Ukrainian fake.

Together with Molfar OSINT community, the Editor of AIN.Capital investigated who really helped Replika to succeed and how is it linked with Russian oligarchs. Read more…

Russian ABBYY still works in Ukraine, and state agencies purchase its software

ABBYY is one of the most famous Russian technology businesses like Yandex or Kaspersky Lab. The Ukrainian government banned its products in 2017, but the company seems to continue its operation in Ukraine despite over five months since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion. AIN.Capital’s editor reveals details of this story. Read more…

US-based Veeam halts sales in Russia but seems to still be operating there

Veeam is a data protection company founded in 2006 by Russian entrepreneurs Andrei Baranov and Ratmir Timashev with an HQ in Switzerland and R&D office in St. Petersburg. In 2020, it was acquired by the US VC fund Insight Partners and now its HQ is located in the US. Veeam employs 4,500 people all over the world, its annual sales volume exceeds $1 billion.

At the beginning of March 2022, Veeam publically stated that it condemned the military aggression against Ukraine and put all sales in Russia on pause. But according to AIN.Capital data, the company keeps operating in that market. Read more…


Flashpoint to raise $75M for Ukraine-focused fund. It has close ties with Russia

At the end of November 2022, the international technology investment firm Flashpoint announced its intention to launch a $75 million Ukrainian Tech Fund to support Ukrainian tech companies. After the news was made public, Yaroslav Krempovych, Senior Associate at Movens Capital, drew the attention of AIN.Capital’s Editor to the facts that might indicate Flashpoint’s close ties with Russia. 

Relying on the open source information, we investigated Flashpoint’s year-to-year activities and are sharing the story of its transformation from $10 million Moscow-based Buran VC to the international technology investment firm with $500 million AuM and 7 offices worldwide, still closely tied to Russia. Read more…