Young IT Professionals are Leaving Russia in Droves to Find Jobs & Escape Authoritarianism
Tens of thousands of young, well-educated Russians are leaving the country to find freedom and better job opportunities in the European Union [EU], Israel, and neighboring nations like Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.
The Economist: "Since the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24th, tens of thousands of Russians have hurriedly left their homes, travelling to any nearby destination that will allow them in visa-free; one prominent economist estimated that at least 200,000 had fled by the second week of March. Georgia alone has reportedly accepted about 30,000. This stampede for the exits greatly accelerates a trend that has been on the rise for years."
This is not an entirely new trend, but the Ukrainian invasion was the last straw for many looking to escape Vladimir Putin's authoritarian regime before Russia closes its doors to emigration and expands the military draft.
AP: "Anastasia, a 24-year-old freelance computer systems analyst from the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, chose Kyrgyzstan where her husband has family."
“As long as I can remember, there has always been fear around expressing one’s own views in Russia,” Anastasia said, adding that the war and “the background noise of patriotism” made the environment even more forbidding. “I left one day before they began searching and interrogating people at the border.”
Young IT workers also understand that Western sanctions will make Russia a technological backwater for years to come.
Radio Free Europe: "Artyom Saprykin, a 28-year-old software developer from Ufa, the capital of the Bashkortostan region on the Volga, fled to Armenia on March 15, following in the footsteps of many friends."
“I don’t see prospects for myself in Russia anymore. With such a set of sanctions, [the West] has essentially put a nail in the coffin of Russia’s IT industry,” Saprykin said. “It will not develop, only stagnate.”
And, one by one, American and European companies are moving out of Russia and taking thousands of high-paying jobs with them. Moreover, top technology firms such as Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, and Cisco that provide essential products and services to the technology sector are halting operations in the country.
TechCrunch: “Russian IT people face a new reality,” said a senior machine learning engineer who worked in Moscow remotely for an American company. “The best way of describing it is as a ‘digital gulag.’”
Radio Free Europe: Elina Ribakova, the deputy chief economist at the Washington-based International Institute of Finance, said in a report earlier this month that the large emigration of educated Russians, including IT specialists, will have long-term effects on the country’s economic growth.
“This ‘brain drain’ is one of the reasons why we believe that [Russian] productivity and potential output growth will decrease further from already-low levels,” she said.
Russian tech companies with international customers are also looking for new homes to avoid economic sanctions, and neighboring nations are happy to lure them across the border to jumpstart their own technology sectors.
AP: "A senior diplomat from another Russian neighbor, Kazakhstan, made a naked appeal this week for fleeing foreign enterprises to come to his country."
"Kazakhstan is eyeing high-tech investors with particular interest as the country tries to diversify its economy, which relies on oil exports. In 2017, the government set up a technology park in the capital, Nur-Sultan, and offered tax breaks, preferential loans, and grants to anybody prepared to set up shop there."
By: Don Lam & Curated Content