Russia’s IT sector risks losing more workers in the new year to planned remote work legislation, as authorities try to lure back some of the tens of thousands of people who have gone abroad without leading to their severing ties entirely.
By having relatively mobile jobs, computer scientists figured prominently among the many Russians who fled after Moscow sent its army into Ukraine on February 24 and the hundreds of thousands who followed when it launched a military mobilization in September.
The government estimates that 100,000 IT specialists currently work for Russian companies from abroad.
A law is now being debated for earlier this year that could ban remote work in some professions.
Hardline lawmakers, fearful that more Russian computer scientists will end up working in NATO countries and inadvertently sharing sensitive security information, have proposed banning some information technology specialists from leaving Russia.
But the Ministry of Digital Affairs said in December that a full ban could make Russian IT companies less efficient and therefore less competitive: “In the end, whoever can attract the most talented staff, including foreign ones, wins.” .
“NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS”
While many disillusioned young Russians have fled to countries like Latvia, Georgia or Armenia, where Russian is widely spoken, several have taken a bigger leap: to Argentina.
Roman Tulnov, a 36-year-old computer scientist, says that he does not intend to return to Russia under any circumstances.
“I had wanted to leave for a long time. On February 24, everything became clear. I understood that there was no life in Russia anymore,” he commented, attributing especially to the mobilization the opportunity to work six time zones away and keep his job.
“Before the mobilization, nobody thought of giving the go-ahead for people to move to who knows where.”
Viacheslav Volodin, the powerful speaker of the Russian Parliament’s Lower House, or State Duma, has declared that he wants taxes raised for workers who have moved abroad.
Product designer Yulia, 26, estimates that a quarter of her team would rather resign than return to Russia under duress.
“Such a non-alternative option is a bit like negotiating with terrorists: ‘Come back or we’ll make your job, your company and employees impossible,'” she said.
For some expatriate Russians it may also deter them from paying taxes altogether. The 13% income tax is automatically deducted for resident employees, but those who work for Russian companies from abroad are left to fend for themselves.
Professional online poker player Sasha, 37, also a resident of Argentina, stated that he had stopped paying Russian taxes.
“When you pay taxes you support the state and its military expansion,” he said. “I don’t pay and I don’t intend to.”
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.