Remember the video of Nintendo of Russia CEO Yasha Haddaji’s live stream meltdown? That was only a small example of what it’s like to work there. Former employees have decided to speak up about Haddaji’s actions in the company. Haddaji is accused of blackmailing, abuse, bad temperament, stress, sexual harassment, and much more. Below is just half of the stories that former employees shared in an interview with Kanobu that was posted today.
Level Up 2017’s Dmitry Steblev, seen in the video, Says that Haddaji “grabbed me by the badge on my neck and yanked toward himself, right in front of the main stage. Called me an idiot, and said he won’t pay me anything”. Steblev also says that “as far as he could tell, was equally abusive toward all his subordinates and wasn’t shy about going off at them in English, Russian and French equivalents of F-bombs”.
Steblev also says that “couple of times I was at the office and in each case he was, so to speak, uncouth while addressing his subordinates. While I was there, he stepped out into the hallway and asked: “And where is she?” The F-word flies off his tongue in every other sentence. He also constantly threatens to fire people, saying ‘I pay your salary.’ I also know he broke one female worker down to tears and cracked jokes about some employees’ BMI. And then he told everybody that nothing had happened”. Steblev is concerned that “he can actually lay his hands on somebody” in the future, and that “any kind of a stressful situation throws him into a fit of rage”.
Miroslava Basnak, Nintendo Russia’s former social media manager, also had things to share. Basnak says that “He used to constantly bring me into his office for face-to-face meetings. Probably so the others couldn’t hear his language. He uses highly abusive words in a mix of Russian and English. Sometimes there’s French. He also pried into my personal circumstances, asked who I was cohabiting with and how did I make my living while searching for a job. He checked my social media and found some pages that I didn’t even use at the time (fake or empty profiles). He also made me take down my photos with ‘provocative undertones.’ He then showed me what pictures I should delete”. Basnak also says that Haddaji “constantly talks to you like you’re an idiot, asking if you’re getting what he’s telling you. He also made fun of my British English accent”.
According to Basnak, Haddaji and Nintendo Russia really doesn’t care about their Russian fans. Basnak says that “people who actually love the games do get less money. They don’t like fans in Nintendo Russia. When you tell anybody you’re a gamer, they look at you strangely. Perhaps they think that if you love Nintendo so much it’s some sort of an honor to work for them so you don’t need to actually get paid. The people who come to the company from other businesses and don’t know the first thing about Nintendo and its products get bigger salaries. By the way, everybody who thinks that Nintendo Russia is making huge money for Nintendo of Europe are gravely mistaken”.
Basnak continues, saying that “the leadership is highly ineffective. He bottlenecked all processes through himself, he micromanages everything. He doesn’t let anybody do anything. He wouldn’t even let me publish social media posts from Nintendo of Europe until after he’d gone over them personally. He thought they also were idiots. “He used to say that the European branch is staffed by “[f-word]ing [r-word]s.” And the Russian branch, too”.
Haddaji will also sexually harass his female co-workers. Basnak says that “he did approach me very closely during our conversations, touched my shoulders and arms, it’s strange, but not a, strictly speaking, harassment. But other girls did complain about that”. A former employee that wished to remain anonymous also said that “everything that former employees say in their interviews is true. I get the anonymity thing—we are all deeply afraid, even after all the years. And to those ex-employees who say that the sexual harassment thing is made up, I can say only this: “Be glad that you think so, be glad that you weren’t the ones touched by it”.
The same employee also confirms that “everybody in the Russian office is in fear of the CEO. Not many people know that it’s actually a Russian branch of Hell. The ex-employees only tell stories in whispers. I’m finally capable of calmly writing about my experiences without instantly deleting the messages”. The bulk of the former employees said, very bluntly, that “all the problems are caused by the toxic CEO who frequently escalates personal conflicts while pursuing his own goals, making accomplishing the actual work difficult for everybody involved”.
Former employees say that Haddaji would treat you very nicely in public. However, as another anonymous former employee explained, “of course Yasha wouldn’t harass his employees in front of witnesses. He’s married, after all, and it could’ve been bad for his marriage. But he did harass me. And I’m sure he was livid it didn’t go anywhere”.
As for why employees put up with this, the anonymous former employee says that “firstly, the salary was great. Secondly, many people knew that if you quit after a fight with Yasha, he would do anything possible for you not to be able to find work for a very long time. At least in this industry. And how do you quit without having an argument with your boss? He’s really thin-skinned. And it’s scary to think of yourself without a place of employment. Some have mortgages, some have families, some have rent. Lots of reasons. Everybody needs money”.
Steblev also confirms that Haddaji will blackmail employees, saying that “I also heard that he calls up the companies looking to hire people who have been fired by him. I hope it doesn’t happen every single time. I know he did tell my employer some bad stuff about me—I was told so”.
So why is Haddaji doing all this? Another former employee that wished to remain anonymous said that “he has a multi-year contract with Nintendo that makes him think he can do whatever he wants”. Basnak also says that his behavior was reported, but “they were ignored by the European branch [of Nintendo]. I wanted to write to the HQ myself, but I quit before I got to do that”.