Putin, Kudrin touch on future of Yandex in late-night meeting - sources

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin touched on the future of internet giant Yandex in a late night meeting, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

Sources told Reuters that Kudrin, one of the country's top economic officials and a long-time colleague of the president, is expected to leave his role as head of Russia's Audit Chamber to take up a position with Yandex.

The future of the company, which dominates Russia's online search and ride-hailing markets, but also has several operations abroad, has been the subject of speculation in Russian media in recent months.

Two of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak freely, said Putin and Kudrin had discussed Yandex.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said he could not confirm whether the meeting had taken place or not.

"Kudrin is someone who the company feel is a good person to navigate this because he is liberal enough to understand that Russia needs a private internet company, free from nationalisation, and who has credibility in Putin's eyes," one of the sources said.

Since Russia launched what it refers to as a "special military operation" in Ukraine in late February, Nasdaq-listed Yandex, often referred to as 'Russia's Google', has grappled with domestic pressure on one side and its Western investors on the other.

Yandex did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

(Reporting by Polina Devitt, Darya Korsunskaya and Alexander Marrow; editing by Jason Neely)