Yandex developers used racist slurs in the source code and tailored search algorithms for propaganda purposes

On Thursday, January 26, the proprietary source code of Russian giant Yandex has been leaked on an online community called Dumpforums. The company has already confirmed the leak to the Russian media. Meanwhile, several specialists investigated the code and found disturbing details like racist terms as names of variables and functions, as well as parts of code that inserted elements of Kremlin propaganda in the search engine’s results.

Racist slurs in the Yandex source code

The editors of AIN.Capital found examples of the use of racist vocabulary in the merged code of Yandex. You can check their presence, in particular, in the file Antirobot, in ./scripts/learn/

The first screenshot shows a racial slur in the name of the function stop_n****rs (n-word) that terminates zombie processes (processes in Unix systems that are already executed but still present in the list). Here the function has to terminate such processes and Yandex developer described it as terminate all n****rs. Furthermore while executing this function shows a message like ‘Please wait until all n*ggers are terminated’. The second screenshot shows that a variable previously known as slave (the western world refused to use master/slave terminology long ago) has been renamed to n****r.

Twitter users have already found the probable author of the code: company developer Ilya Trofimov (and his Linkedin profile) by mail on the second of the screens.

Propaganda in the search engine

These are far from all the curiosities that the IT community managed to find in the code of Yandex services. For example, here is a thread about how the search algorithms were changed so that it did not show results offensive to Putin, and also so that people did not see associations of the Z symbol with Nazis:

Details about the leak

The files in the archive are dated February 24, 2022, and, according to the owner, were stolen by him back in July 2022. (Dumpforums is an organization of Ukrainian hackers that previously claimed responsibility for hacking a number of Russian banks and state-owned enterprises).

The archive, which is available for anyone to download, contains internal Git repositories with the code of 79 Yandex’s services and projects, as well as internal documentation and API access keys. The size of the archive is 44.71 GB.

“Yandex is one of largest IT companies in Russia. Within country it provide wider range of services than Google. Imagine one company that replace Google, Uber, Amazon, Netflix and Spotify,”

the developer, and tech enthusiast Arseniy Shestakov noted in his blogpost.