Russia risks causing new-year tech worker flight with remote working law
Russia’s buffeted IT sector risks losing more workers in the new year because of planned legislation on remote working, as authorities try to lure back some of the tens of thousands who have gone abroad without prompting them to cut ties completely.
Having relatively portable jobs, IT workers featured 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 a military call-up began in September.
For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
The government estimates that 100,000 IT specialists currently work for Russian companies overseas.
Now, legislation is being mooted for early next year that could ban remote working for some professions.
Hawkish lawmakers, fearful that more Russian IT professionals could end up working in NATO countries and inadvertently sharing sensitive security information, have proposed banning some IT specialists from leaving Russia.
But the Digital Ministry said in December that a total ban could make Russian IT firms less effective, and so less competitive: “In the end, whoever can attract the most talented staff, including those from abroad, will win.”
‘Negotiating with terrorists’
While many disillusioned young Russians have gone to countries such as Latvia, Georgia or Armenia where the Russian language is widely spoken, several have made a bigger leap -- to Argentina.
IT specialist Roman Tulnov, 36, said he did not plan on returning to Russia under any circumstances.
“I had wanted to leave for some time. On February 24, everything became clear. I understood that there was no more life in Russia,” he said, crediting mobilization in particular for the opportunity to work six times zones away and still keep his job.
“Before mobilization, no one thought about giving the go-ahead for people to move to who-knows-where.”
Vyacheslav Volodin, the powerful chairman of Russia’s lower house of parliament or State Duma, has said he wants to see
higher taxation for workers who have moved abroad.
Product designer Yulia, 26, estimated that a quarter of her team would rather quit than return to Russia under duress.
“Such a non-alternative choice is a bit like negotiating with terrorists: ‘Come back or we’ll make your job impossible,
and for your company and employees’,” she said.
Some expatriate Russians might also be put off paying tax altogether. Personal income tax of 13 percent is deducted automatically from employees who are resident, but those who work for Russian-based companies from abroad are left to their own devices.
Professional online poker player Sasha, 37, also living in Argentina, said he had now stopped paying Russian taxes.
“When you pay taxes you support the state and its military expansion,” he said. “I’m not paying and don’t plan to.”
Read more: Russia’s mobilized troops entitled to free sperm freezing: State news agency TASS
Alert issued in Ukraine’s Kyiv after ‘air attack’: City military administrationAn alert was in effect for Kyiv on Monday after an “air attack,” the city’s military administration announced, with the mayor citing an explosion in ... World News
New Year attacks targeted Ukraine drone production, Russia’s defense ministry saysMoscow said on Sunday its New Year attacks on Ukraine targeted the pro-Western country’s drone production, claiming it had managed to scupper Kyiv’s ... World News
Zelenskyy says Ukraine ‘will not forgive’ Russia after latest strikesUkraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Saturday that his country will not forgive Russia and its aggression after Moscow conducted a barrage of ... World News
Ukraine shot down 12 of 20 Russian missiles: ArmyUkraine’s air defense shot down 12 out of 20 missiles launched by Russia on Saturday afternoon, hours before New Year’s Eve celebrations, the ... World News
Putin says West is using Ukraine to destroy Russia in New Year video messageRussian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday his country would never give in to the West’s attempts to use Ukraine as a tool to destroy Russia.In ... World News
Russia’s defense minister says victory ‘inevitable’ in New Year messageRussian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said victory for Russia over Ukraine was “inevitable” as he hailed Russian soldiers’ heroism in a New Year's ... World News