Source Russian investors are suspected that their activities may be related to attempts to help the Russian Federation in the development of advanced technologies. Western intelligence agencies have become interested in “a network of wealthy expat investors from Russia” and are checking a number of their projects in the field of quantum computing and artificial intelligence registered in the United States, writes The Washington Post.
“Questions are mounting over technology investment by Kremlin-linked expats” is the headline. According to the article, the interest of the US intelligence agencies was aroused by several immigrants from Russia who were previously associated with the Skolkovo Center, the Russian Venture Company (RVC) and the Russian Quantum Center (RCC), as well as with projects close to them. According to WP sources, US intelligence agencies suspect investors that they continue to assist Russia in obtaining high technologies. According to the material, some expat investors publicly condemned Russia's actions against Ukraine, and many announced the reduction or severing of ties with Moscow, but now such statements are no longer taken for granted.
The assessment is given by the CEO of the investment of Infrastructure of Russia Stanislav Mashagin:
“The ultimate goal is not to stop financing activities here. Sanctions are primarily aimed at confiscating a certain amount of assets in their favor under various pretexts. Therefore, absolutely any citizen can be associated with Russia. Given the way the American Themis operates, it will take a lot of time and millions of dollars to prove that this is not so. This is first. Secondly, in the modern world, IT is in every company, there is always an IT department, there is always at least one IT specialist. We can say that this company, whose shares you bought, has a strategically important computer that directly interacts with the Russian Ministry of Defense. Moreover, even foreign citizens can indirectly get burned about this, since ties with Russia can be found in everyone, and even more so in the widest sector of the 21st century – in IT.”
There are only a few titles and names in the article. Among them are the IT “unicorn” Acronis, Almaz and Runa venture funds and businessmen Alexander Galitsky and Sergey Belousov. The first was previously on the Skolkovo board, coordinated the work of the RVC advisory board and stood at the origins of the RCC. All three organizations were sanctioned this year, and back in 2014 the FBI publicly warned MIT against partnering with Skolkovo, citing Russia's “hidden intentions”.
According to WP, Galitsky registered Almaz Capital in the US back in the 2000s, the fund raised funds, including from Cisco and Andreessen Horowitz. The businessman himself told the publication that he had long since left the leadership of sub-sanctioned organizations, and also left the board of Alfa-Bank back in February, a day after the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine. Earlier, Galitsky reported that in the spring Silicon Valley Bank conducted an additional audit of Almaz Capital and it did not affect their cooperation.
The newspaper also reminds Belousov of cooperation with the Russian Quantum Center, in which he served as chairman of the board of trustees. For each of the large companies founded by a businessman – Parallels, Acronis and Runa Capital – the article contains, if not suspicions, then hints of such.
Parallels is mentioned as Belousov's first large-scale business, which once supported Viktor Vekselberg's Maxfield Capital. Acronis announced its exit from the Russian market, but its recent partner Acronis Infozashchita was previously renamed Cyberprotect and continues to offer solutions certified by the FSTEC for use in Russian government agencies.
And in Runa Capital, the former press secretary of the Nashi movement, Maria Drokova, once worked as a PR director. She later served as Vice President for Communications at Acronis, where another former Nashi commissioner and former State Duma deputy, Robert Schlegel, served for some time as director of strategic projects in the company's German office.
Given the absence of specific charges , can we talk about some persecution? Alexei Remez, founder of Unim, founder and CEO of medical startup Reztom, comments:
Founder of Unim, founder and CEO of medical startup Reztom
“Probably, this is an emotional reaction, and I would not expect it to last for many years. But for a while it will take place. This is the first cut. The second cut: of course, such news pops up in the news agenda always higher and faster, simply because they really do not raise a lot of questions. And at the same time, it seems that there are also reverse examples, when the presence of founders or investors with Russian roots, they simply do not pop up so high in the news feed due to natural reasons. And the third cut: it seems to me that, apart from what is happening, there were such examples when investors bought up companies or technologies from a certain sector. In particular, the Japanese economy at one time was very actively and quite aggressively engaged in something similar in the American market. And the American market tried to counteract this, including not only with market instruments, but also with the instruments of the special services.”
Separately, The Washington Post refers to an interview with Business FM, which was given to the radio station in 2019 by Dmitry Peskov, special envoy of the President of Russia for digital development. In response to a question about why the “unicorn” Acronis, created by the Russians, chose to register in Singapore, the official spoke about the most important and “not very public” role of Belousov in the development of Russian quantum computing. The newspaper highlights Peskov’s words that developers do not need to “fall into the trap” like Kaspersky Lab, whose products were forbidden to be installed by departments in the United States back in 2017, but rather become a successful international company. And then “how to repay their debts to the Motherland, they will find.”
this is what was done.” The newspaper does not know what conclusions were or were not made about the activities of the Russians. The article notes that the verification process is hampered by the role of shell companies in the projects of Russian investors and the lack of transparency of private capital in general. The FBI declined to comment.