Yandex, the leading search engine on the Russian-language Internet, announced yesterday the launch of Yandex.Factory, an investment program designed to help startups finance their product, prototype, or project development at the seed, or early, stage.

A Yandex spokesperson told Kommersant, a Russian business daily, that the company particularly welcomes projects related to multimedia technologies such as face or barcode recognition, navigation and social communications; information flow analysis and structuring, user behavior analysis, advertising technologies, interface solutions, and data treatment and presentation.

Selected startups will receive up to several hundred thousand US dollars for up to one year. In addition, Yandex managers will “work closely with the project’s team, sharing their knowledge and expertise,” promises the company.

Yandex launched its first startup support program, named Yandex.Start, in June 2010. As a result, the search engine acquired the technologies of two Russian startups: WebVisor, which provides analysis of visitor behavior on websites, and Loginza, creator of a plugin for user authentication via such sites as Facebook, Twitter, and OpenID-supported sites.

Yandex is widely regarded in Russia’s business circles as a strategic rather than a financial investor. It generally invests in startups with a view to further integration into its own range of services or adopting them into its ecosystem.