- This content was produced in Russia, where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.
MOSCOW, Jan 02 (Portal) – Russia’s battered IT sector risks losing more workers in the new year to proposed remote work laws as authorities try to lure back some of the tens of thousands who have gone abroad without letting them do so cause the connections to be severed altogether.
With relatively portable jobs, IT workers 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 a military call began in September.
The government estimates that 100,000 IT specialists are currently working for Russian companies abroad.
Now legislation is being discussed earlier this year that could ban remote work for some jobs.
Hawkish lawmakers, concerned that more Russian IT professionals working in NATO countries and inadvertently leaking sensitive security information, have proposed banning some IT professionals from Russia.
But the Digital Ministry said in December that a total ban could make Russian IT firms less effective and thus less competitive: “In the end, whoever can attract the most talented employees, including from abroad, will win.”
“NEGOTIATIONS WITH TERRORISTS”
While many disaffected young Russians have gone to countries like Latvia, Georgia or Armenia where the Russian language is widespread, some have made a bigger leap – to Argentina.
IT specialist Roman Tulnov, 36, said he has no plans to return to Russia under any circumstances.
“I’ve been wanting to leave for some time. Everything became clear to me on February 24. I understood that there was no longer any life in Russia,” he said, crediting the mobilization with the opportunity to work six zones away and still to stay his job.
“Before the mobilization, no one thought of giving people the green light to move to who-knows-where.”
Vyacheslav Volodin, the powerful leader of Russia’s lower house of parliament, or the State Duma, has said he wants higher taxes on workers who have moved abroad.
Product designer Yulia, 26, estimates that a quarter of her team would rather quit than be forced to return to Russia.
“Such a non-alternative choice is a bit like negotiating with terrorists: ‘Come back or we will make your job impossible and for your company and your employees,'” she said.
Some Russians who have emigrated could also be prevented from paying taxes altogether. Personal income tax of 13% is automatically deducted for resident workers, but those working for Russian companies from abroad are on their own.
Professional online poker player Sasha, 37, who also lives in Argentina, said he has now stopped paying Russian taxes.
“When you pay taxes, you support the state and its military expansion,” he said. “I’m not paying and I don’t intend to.”
(This story has been corrected to say “this year” in paragraph four.)
Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Edited by Kevin Liffey and Gareth Jones
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