He soon founded a nonprofit social network for entrepreneurs called Mesto — the Russian word for place — in hopes of boosting the start-up market in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union. While launching his own startup, Duplicat, which aimed to identify fraud in the non-fungible token market, he contracted a team of artificial intelligence engineers spread across Russia.
He has also invested in several Ukrainian start-ups. One of them was Reface, an artificial intelligence company recommended by Mr. Podolyanko. Last summer, while meeting other companies and colleagues in Kyiv, they both attended a boat party hosted by a group of Ukrainian technologists and investors. Mr. Podolyanko brought his girlfriend, a Ukrainian financial analyst named Stacy Antipova.
Russo-Ukrainian War: Main Developments
Zelensky advocates an even harder line. Speaking by video to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on world powers to go much further to punish Moscow. Russia, usually a major presence at the rally, was an outcast this year.
It was a trip they now look back on with sad affection. Russia invaded six months later.
After the invasion, Ms. Antipova fled Ukraine and flew to Tijuana, Mexico, where she was able to enter the United States as a refugee. She now lives in DobryDom. “When I first came down for breakfast,” Mr. Doronichev recalled, “I didn’t know what to say.”
Sitting in the backyard alongside her new housemates one recent afternoon, Ms. Antipova also didn’t know what to say. “I hadn’t planned on moving so far so soon,” she said. “I’m just trying to fix my life, figure out what I want to do, because I left the rest of my life behind.”
Across the table, Dasha Kroshkina, another Russian-born entrepreneur, explained that she was working to move employees out of Russia and Ukraine and working to restart service. of his company, StudyFree, in Africa and India. When the war broke out, many of his clients – students seeking scholarships and grants at foreign universities – were in Russia.
“We all feel trauma,” said Mikita Mikado, another DobryDom roommate, who immigrated from Belarus. “But the trauma is different for each of us.”
Mr. Mikado and Mr. Doronichev are currently working to move their own employees out of Russia to European and Asian countries that accept visa-free Russian citizens, but not all are willing or able to leave. The two entrepreneurs will cut ties with all those who remain.