RUSSIA High-tech specialists flee Russia

They don’t want to live under Putin’s regime, especially after the invasion of Ukraine. They mainly go to Armenia, Georgia and Turkey, then head to Europe or the United States. With the flight of the high-tech giants, Russia risks technological paralysis.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – In the convulsive crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, amid sanctions and economic consequences for Russia and many other countries, the issue of mass emigration of computer scientists, which does not have no intention of living under Putin’s regime, is becoming more and more acute. The war is only the last act of a suffocating dictatorship that wants to control all the lives of its subjects, and the “defense against aggression from the West”, which for the Kremlin justifies the operation in Ukraine, identifies the computer network as one of the main front lines.

Since the beginning of March, presidential and governmental decrees have followed one another to retain “aitišniki”, specialists in high technology. They are offered tax breaks and exemptions to join the army, but no facilitation or sanction measure seems able to stop the theft, which has already exceeded 100,000 units. The greatest losses, according to the Skolkovo Institute, concern computer security experts: almost a third of Russian companies in this sector are trying to transfer their activities and employees abroad.

As Artem Kozljuk, director of the Roskomsvoboda project on freedom of communication, explains to Sibir.Realii, aitišniki can work from anywhere, so they are still among the most sought-after specialists in the world, and Russian specialists are among the best rated. . “I doubt that top experts are held back by patriotic flattery, which they oppose on moral grounds,” Kozljuk said.

The site reports the story of two Siberian aitišniki, Vasilij and his wife Elena, who in mid-March moved from Tomsk to Yerevan in Armenia. For many years we have been trying to change something in Russia, we also took part in demonstrations in the streets, we financially supported free media, but on February 24 we realized that all this was useless.

All computer scientists work with products from international companies, and their exit from Russia makes it impossible to maintain the necessary standards even for the most popular video games. Over the past month, all major technology and license distributors have left Russia: Apple, Samsung, Nvidia, Nokia, HP, Dell, Amd, Intel, Oracle, even Microsoft has deprived Russians of the opportunity to buy Windows and Office licenses, and blocked access to Azure Cloud Archive.

In offices and workplaces, it is recommended not to damage or break Apple technology devices, as it is now impossible to obtain spare parts legally. The Aitišniki have well above average salaries, around 7-8,000 euros per month, and they look for all possible exits, starting with countries that do not require Russians to have an entry visa, such as Russia. Armenia, Georgia and Turkey, from where they can eventually move to Europe or the United States. Tickets to these destinations have increased up to 20 times, and even rental and real estate prices in the Caucasus have increased up to 5-6 times.

Another cybersecurity expert, Sergej Bakulin, explains that “aitišniki have left Russia for quite some time, at least since 2018, when the policies of systematic restriction to the information world began, and it was clear that the digital infrastructure would remain obsolete”. From the beginning of 2021, the Moscow Finance Ministry warned that up to half a million specialists were missing and called for financing the sector with heavy investments, which instead all ended up in the sphere military.