“We know everything about people’s behavior.” How a Russian founded the big data platform Tazeros which collaborated with propagandists and the FSB

It all started like with Zuckerberg: In 2010, a group of university friends developed algorithms to forecast and analyze stock exchange trades based on data from open sources. One of them was Artur Khachuyan, a cybernetics student at the Russian National Research Nuclear University “Moscow Engineering Physics Institute” (MEPhI).

After five years, in 2015, during the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine, Khachuyan founded two companies, Social Data Hub and Fubutech Technologies, whose subject was open data accumulation and analysis. Among Fubutech Technologies’ clients were Russian media, Kazakhstan authorities, multiple worldwide businesses, and the FSB, for which the start-up did face recognition and provided them with web surveillance algorithms.

In 2019, Artur Khachuyan concentrated all his activities within a newly founded company, Tazeros Global Systems, and in 2022, he started to research warfare in Ukraine.

Does his company collaborate with the Kremlin by providing the Russian government with data about Ukrainians, in particular the militants, how dangerous its product is, and what Khachuyan is doing at the moment? Read in a joint investigation of AIN.UA and the Molfar OSINT community.

Who is Artur Khachuyan, and what should you know about him?

Artur Khachuyan started his career in 2012 at the Artbrother Media Group design studio. However, on his VK page, Khachuyan stated that he worked as the Chief of the Cybersecurity Department at the ARDA consulting company, a project within the Russian Propagandist Tina Kandelaki and her husband Vasili Brovko holding called Apostol Media, from 2012 to 2015.

About Tina Kandelaki and Russia’s war against Ukraine

Tina Kandelaki supported the occupation of Crimea by Russia. Before that, in 2008, she supported the Russian occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In 2019, in her interview with BBC Russian, Kandelaki stated that, in Davos, “they dream of Putin’s arrival.” She also said that in Crimea, “there was a referendum, and the people’s choice must be respected.”

In 2022, Kandelaki was included in the US sanctions list for supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine.

In 2015, Khachuyan founded Fubutech Technologies and Social Data Hub (SDH), whose domain was data accumulation and analysis. On LinkedIn, Khachuyan wrote that he is a co-founder, and his business partner is a Belarusian, Maksim Balashevich.

About Maksim Balashevich

In 2000, Balashevych moved to Germany, where in 2016, he founded the Ethereum Blockchain projects — Santiment (a platform that provides analytical data on cryptocurrencies and fintech; it also helps with trading based on the analysis of user behavior in social media and open data) and greenyvest.com (the project was closed in 2017).

Khachuyan stated they gathered data without user permission, and their company had copies of VK and ОК (Odnoklassniki) without media libraries, and of the Russian segments of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (X), Tumbler, AirBnB, YouDo, Tinder, Badoo, Avito, and other media. The two companies provided all the data and services to Russian politicians, authorities, state entities, and Russian propaganda media TASS, RIA Novosti, and Life.ru.

Artur Khachuyan. Source: Institute Media Policy

Fubutech Technologies and Social Data Hub shared a team of developers and analysts. They both did face, ID, car signs, and street name recognition, but SDH stood for business cooperation, and Fubutech stood for state-owned customers.

How are Khachuyan and his companies related to the Kremlin: partners, activities, and family

Khachuyan’s company launched the Parental Care project dedicated to extreme children’s behavior analysis in 2017. In the same year, they started to receive orders from “developing countries” and cooperated with Kazakhstan authorities the following year.

Back in 2017, worth mentioning is Khachuyan’s speech at Innoprom 2017, which the Russian dictator Putin opened. Rostech was also represented at the event by the Special Order Director Vasili Brovko, the Kandelaki’s husband mentioned above. Currently, he is on the sanction lists of Ukraine, the USA, Great Britain, and Canada.

Putin’s speech at Innoprom 2017. Source: Industrial Daily

In 2017, Khachuyan also declared cooperation with Russian authorities and that some of their employees might not leave Russia due to confidentiality matters. In addition, some of their team members could also have military ranks. For himself, Khachuyan said that he had no access to state secrets data his companies were processing.

He also saidthat the government was their primary software customer, and the private entities could purchase only the opinion-leader-analysis product part. In 2018, the company created the BigDataLove dating app, matching people based on user behavior data. However, it was closed due to the lack of partners who could do some part of the whole work.

For example, Facebook sent the supposed Irish legal entity, Social Data Hub (not found in the Irish Companies Registration Office register), a letter claiming Meta users’ data collection and selling without Meta’s consent. Facebook also suspected Khachuyan and his companies of making deals with the government and checking users’ personal profile pictures to identify them.

The Russian medium Inc. informed that Social Data Hub is a company that “serves Russian security authorities”; Khachuyan confirmed it by naming his company “a state algorithm developer.”

After that, Facebook suspended 66 SDH’s and Fubutech’s business and employee profiles but restored them after six weeks, even without going to court.

According to Intelligence Online, the companies collaborated with the FSB by providing web surveillance and face recognition services. They also let FSB investigators analyze judicial request metadata and some intercepted data — the developers searched suspects and provided authorities with deanonymization algorithms.

State orders

DateAuthorityDescription
2017MIAKhachuyan explains how investigators struggle with accessing user personal chats because corporations are ready to apply “lawyers and advocates” to avoid such access.
2018MIAThe Ministry for Internal Affairs sued a mobile operator for 18 months to get access to 300,000 phone numbers within a 1 km range from a murder scene. After winning the case, the MIA shared those phone numbers with SDH for further processing.
2018MFAKhachuyan says that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs “likes” to analyze the most beloved teams of online game players: America against Russia or Russia against China.
2018PPThey developed an algorithm recommending where to place Patrol Police checkpoints to prevent pickpocketing.
2018“Under competent bodies’ supervision”They made a study in which they paid a robot to purchase drugs. 

In 2018, the Founder and CEO at Prepaire Labs, Carl Freer, stated that Fubutech cooperated with the FSB during the 2018 Football World Cup in Russia. According to Brovko, the face recognition system should not have worked those days because they failed to get approval from FIFA. Khachuyan, however, said that the stadium management purchased remote identification systems before the Mundial.

He explained how the system works: there is some “wrecked” fan who wrote “Let’s kill some Russians” on social media. Later, he wanted to purchase tickets online, but no one would be available for him. If this fan comes to a stadium, the system will recognize him and not let him inside.

A year later, Artur Khachuyan acknowledged his companies’ participation in face recognition in cooperation with the Russian Patrol Police.

Business orders

DateClientDescription
2015LifenewsBy an order, they analyzed social media data regarding primaries of the United Russia party in 2015-2016.
2017Here, Artur remembers analyzing voters at the elections to the Moscow Duma who voted for or against the party, the analysis framework, and how they checked phone numbers in real estate and advertisement platform databases.
2017They created infographics about who and how congratulated Putin on his birthday.
2018Here, they analyzed 10,000 state purchases.
2018Khachuyan talked about a client having a digital supersite (kind of billboard) on a highway to Moscow with a built-in car sign recognition system. So, the client shared car numbers with Khachuyan, and he responded with information about car owners and their interests.
2018BBC RussianThey analyzed a website with leaked data

In 2018, Artur Khachuyan stated that he didn’t want to have the reputation of an “agent of a blood-thirsty regime” and declare the financial data of his companies.

Ties with the Kremlin through business partners

In 2017, Fubutech developed a TV rating of politicians for MediaMetrics, founded by German Klimenko. Between 2016 and 2018, Klimenko worked as the Russian Federation’s President Advisor for Internet Development, and in 2019, he became the Chairman of the Board at the Russian Digital Economy Development Fund.

In 2018, the Khachuyan’s company analyzed politicians’ porn preferences at a request of LifeNews, a part of News Media, whose CEO was Aram Gabrelyanov until 2018 (he got an Order of Honor from Putin for “objectivity in the coverage of events” in temporarily occupied Crimea, in 2014. However, there is no such presidential decree published).

In 2017, Gabrelyanov said the Kremlin “could be, undoubtedly, named as the real shareholder of Life all these years.” Gabrelyanov is also a sponsor of the WarGonzo propagandist Semen Pegov. In 2022, he became the leader of a “journalist workshop” on temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

In 2018, a businesswoman, Venera Rovenskaya, promoted Social Data Hub. Then, she was a member of the Russian Public Relations Association (RASO). Today, she works as the Expert Council of the State Duma Committee on Tourism and Development of Tourist Infrastructure.

In 2020, Khachuyan, in cooperation with the National Research University Higher School of Economics, worked on a big data draft law.

What Khachuyan’s role and proposals were remains unknown. However, the definition of big data got into the Law “On Information, Information Technology, and Information Protection” in 2020 — information and statistical reports, information on the location, characteristics of activities, and behavioral aspects of objects.

According to the bill, Roskomnadzor is responsible for registering big data operators and controlling their data processing.

Tazeros Global Systems

You can read on the Tazeros Global System website that all the SDC activities moved to Tazeros in 2019. At the same time, the company declares its operation started in 2010, and its subject is the accumulation and analysis of data from open sources, its own developed algorithms, and business partners.

The subject of Tazeros LLC, registered in February 2019, is data processing activities, provision of information placement services, and related activities.

Its founders were Artur Khachuyan (50%), Vazgen Askaryan (25%), Vadim Derevtsov (12.5%), and Evgeni Mokronosov (12.5%). But at the end of the year, Artur Khachuyan stood as a sole owner. The company pretends to work internationally with the reference to an address in the USA and its 24-language interface, including Ukrainian.

Tazeros in Ukraine: what did it study about the Russo-Ukrainian war, and what is Khachuyan’s position?

In March 2022, Tazeros published a study on social media posts regarding warfare in Ukraine. A Russian political activist, Aleksei Miniailo, said that Tazeros researched how Russians supported the Russian aggression against Ukraine for his project named “Do Russians want a war?”.

In February 2023, Khachuyan and Vot Tak analyzed administrative cases after the article Discrimination of the Russian Armed Forces, using the Pravosudiye state-owned system and the Moscow City and Region Court websites.

Khachuyan said that he doesn’t support what the Russian Federation is doing in Ukraine but also sees no sense in protesting against it. However, he visited the Crimean Bridge in 2020.

His mother, Tatyana Khachuyan, shared a propaganda video about Russian soldiers supposedly distributing bread on temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine while Ukrainian militants should have “pillaged and shot people.” She also posted pictures of the A. V. Alexandrov Academic Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army art director.

In 2024, Khachuyan joined the group of people with the position “Not everything is so clear.” During one of the streams, he said, “Maybe you think I am a kind of fucking liberals and dream of everybody donating to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It is a very complicated political matter.”

In March 2022, the founder said he possesses three apartments in Spain and has transferred all his activities from Russia three years ago. However, in November 2023, he also said he would stay in Russia as long as his grandmother, likely Sima Khachuyan, is sick.

He also said that his company had Belarusian and Ukrainian developers.

In April 2022, Artur Khachuyan went to Poland and registered individual entrepreneurship in computer programming after a year there. As of April 2024, Artur Khachuyan resides in Moscow and plans to visit the USA despite naming American politics “fascist one” during one of his streams.

What is the company doing now? Does it exist at all?

In October 2023, the company, in cooperation with Kseniya Sobchak’s Ostorozhno Media, did research on Russian escort agencies in Dubai. However, the legal entity, Tazeros LLC, was liquidated three months before, in June 2023.

According to the website, their alleged legal entity is Media Zoom LCC, which it missing though in American registers. If we look at the postal address — Dover, DE 19901, 8 The Green STE A — there are registered 513 companies, but no one has the same founders or name.

According to the Russian legal entity registers, OOO “SDH” (likely Social Data Hub) and OOO “Tazeros” were marked in the Uniform State Register of Legal Entities as excluded due to fake data. Khachuyan stated that his company just didn’t prolong the rent agreement and didn’t need SDH anymore.

It is known that in 2022, the Russian Fiscal Service searched OOO “Tazeros” and that in 2021 and 2022, the company paid a tax overdue fine of $54,000, and Mr. Khachuyan had a loan overdue of RUR 170,000 ($1,908) in 2020. In 2020, the tax debt of $3,400 was charged from the other Khachuyan company, OOO “SDH.”

During a live stream in April 2024, Artur said, “Unfortunately, there is almost no such collaboration with the organizations [special task forces] in Russia as it used to be.” He added that now he works on small projects via “innocent” partners. At the same time, he didn’t deny the fact of cooperation with other countries’ security.

The Molfar OSINT Community and the AIN.UA Editorial Board contacted Artur Khachuyan with a legend to find out the current status of his company but have received no response as of the day of publishing this article.

In 2024, Khachuyan said that about 100 people work for Tazeros now but “almost nobody from Russia.” We could find only a few people who mentioned their job experiences at SDH or Tazeros Global System.

NamePosition
Anna KuzinaIn 2015, Exolinguist at SDH
Artyom BrazhnikovIn 2015, Manager at SDH
Evgeni YevteevIn 2015, Senior Developer at SDH
Svetlana DemidovaIn 2015, CFO at SDH
Vasil TapkinJune 2019-December 2020, Data Scientist\ML Engineer at Tarezos
Yuriy RybalkoApril 2019-November 2020, Front End Developer at Tarezos
Mikhail Polev Likely, Communication Manager
A. PolikarpovaLawyer

We tried to reach all the above people but managed to talk only with one specialist on anonymous terms. He said Artur Khachuyan was the only person who worked at Tazeros and talked about numerous projects and developers, but in reality, none existed.

In a personal conversation, Khachuyan explained to the developer that people don’t want anybody to know where they work because of safety reasons, so many specialists didn’t know each other’s names. The company founder also could not provide access to a database with 10 PB of social media data.

According to our anonymous source, the company’s bank accounts have been blocked. When he went to court after he got no salary, Artur Khachuyan liquidated the legal entity using the bankruptcy procedure.

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