The Threat of the Russian IT Brain Drain

Komsomol’skaya pravda used to be notorious in the days of the Soviet Union. The joke ran: “Why do Russians believe in flying saucers?” The answer: “Because Komsomol’skaya pravda denies that they exist.”

Today this is no longer so. It is now the most popular tabloid; reportedly Putin’s favourite read. As such it is occasionally worth a glance and now, given the war censorship, more intense scrutiny. What is so noticeable from it is the repetition of the word “panic” in relation to the economy; in this instance about IT.

“Among the Russian IT crowd there is confusion, vacillation and panic. Nerves are on edge. Get out? Don’t go? Where to?” Igor’, an IT employer, the chorus in this tragedy for Russia’s youth, agrees: “of course they are leaving.” Everything is collapsing, links, contracts. Due to sanctions IT users are now cut off from the latest programmes. Epam, Microsoft, the German SAP (for accountancy)…over seventy companies have left Russia totally or partially.

And it is definitely more about the politics of the war than just IT software. Igor’ goes on: “This is also the moral responsibility of all of us for what is happening. Paying taxes here means you are in solidarity with what is going on to some degree. People reject it, so they get out. Even if the programmes somehow return, people who have left for political reasons will not.”

There is at work also the instinct for self-preservation. The fear of call-up. There are reportedly 1.3 million IT specialists in Russia. The claim is that very few have left. But the latest advertisements for jobs showed that vacancies are up 24% compared to March 2021. The IT specialists are the “new oil”, Komsomol’skaya pravda says, “and they are going down the drain.”

20 апреля 2022 5:04
“Россия останется без программистов? Сколько айтишников на самом деле уехало из нашей страны и как восполнить утечку мозгов
Айтишники – это новая нефть, и она утекает в трубу”

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