Yuri Milner (left) and Mark Zuckerberg at the Breakthrough Prize ceremony in Mountain View, November 2019. (Photo/JTA-Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)
Yuri Milner (left) and Mark Zuckerberg at the Breakthrough Prize ceremony in Mountain View, November 2019. (Photo/JTA-Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

Yuri Milner, ‘Richest Russian in Silicon Valley,’ gives up Russian citizenship

Yuri Milner, a Jewish tech investor, Bay Area resident and Israeli citizen with an estimated net worth of $7.3 billion who is often called the richest Russian in Silicon Valley, has renounced his Russian citizenship.

The man Bloomberg called Silicon Valley’s wealthiest Russian tweeted on Oct. 10 that over the summer he and his family had completed the process of renouncing their Russian citizenship. According to Milner’s website, he has been an Israeli citizen since 1999.

According to his bio, Milner was born in Russia in 1961 to a Ukrainian-Jewish father and a Russian-Jewish mother. He moved his family to Israel in 2005, and his two older daughters were born there.

On his website, Milner indicates his strong support of Israel through philanthropy in the areas of health care, scientific discovery and support of Israeli MBAs at his alma mater, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

While Milner has offered no explicit reason for the renunciation, his website makes several statements that are clearly intended to disassociate Milner from the country of his birth: He has not been to Russia since 2014, nor does he have assets in Russia. Ninety-seven percent of his personal wealth was created outside Russia. DST Global, his investment firm, maintains no office in Russia and has not invested in Russian companies.

According to Business Insider, DST Global in March condemned “Russia’s war against Ukraine, its sovereign neighbor.” Milner’s nonprofit Breakthrough Prize Foundation also condemned “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its unprovoked and brutal assaults against the civilian population” and announced it would grant $3 million to Ukrainian scientists forced to flee the country.

Additionally, Milner has given direct aid to organizations supporting Ukraine, and pledged $100 million to aid Ukrainian refugees.

In 2017, the Atlantic reported on leaked financial documents known as the Paradise Papers. In a deep dive, journalist Julia Ioffe wrote that Milner’s rise was made possible with help from state-supported Russian banks: “Both stakes have been sold off, but Milner’s path to Silicon Valley, where he continues be a power player and lives in a $100 million compound, was paved with the Kremlin’s money and a mutually beneficial relationship.”

The New York Times also looked into how Milner’s “use of the state-directed apparatus employed by so many Russian oligarchs to enrich themselves shows how the Kremlin has extended its long financial arm not only to his company but to some of America’s technology giants.”

Milner is the author of “The Eureka Manifesto,” which argues that humanity needs a shared mission. With his wife, Julia Milner, he’s a signatory of the Giving Pledge, which asks the richest to promise “a majority” of their wealth toward solving the world’s most pressing problems.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.