I understand that I have put up certain barriers, but that is my choice.Vladimir Volokhonsky, data analyst:
I work for an international company that makes, let’s say, programs for programmers. I left Russia in early March 2022. In my case, it was due to political persecution – they had already showed up twice to carry out searches, and I understood that it was a matter of days, or even hours, before my arrest.
But just a couple of days after my departure, the company where I work announced the closure of its business in Russia. For the company, it was an extremely difficult decision, since most of the employees were in Russia. Nevertheless, it was done, and all the specialists, and even a decent part of the administrative staff, were offered the opportunity to move. The company paid for the relocation, paid out a moving allowance for those who for some reason could not move to the company’s offices in the EU. Several more offices were opened in countries outside the EU, including one in Serbia, where I moved.
Of course, people had been building their lives for many years, and for many it was not easy to move. The salary did not decrease, but of course many saw their quality of life decline. For example, in January 2022 I bought an annual subscription to a very expensive fitness club in St Petersburg and not only lost this money, but still have not found anything suitable for myself in Belgrade. Of course, against the generally horrendous backdrop, this seems like a trifle, but such everyday trifles are common for many of us as we adapt to our new life.
Still, even though everyone is whining all the time, I don’t know anyone who would like to go back. Generally speaking, I think this is quite normal behavior for emigrants: whining all the time. There are no problems with finding a job if you want to return – there are plenty in Russia. Yes, the IT market in Russia collapsed, the outflow of workers has been compensated by the outflow of employers – but now there are not enough experienced specialists, who were the first to leave, and the demand for them has risen.
On the other hand, there are plenty of people who just completed some computer courses, they are now actively looking for work – but again, to get some minimal experience so that they can leave later. Although it is not clear who in Russia will “grow” such specialists now.
As for calls to go back, I think it’s not so much IT people as such who are being called back home – they want to get back their money and orders. After all, many people who left Russia work as freelancers for Western companies; many had their own small or medium-sized IT companies. To [get back] all this is very simple – stop the war and get back to democratic development. If that happens in the next year or two, I am sure that a considerable number of people will go back – from a quarter to a third of those who left, by my estimates.
But if, say, a decade passes, returning will be irrelevant for most of them – they will already have a well-established life, and going back would be another stress, breaking already familiar ties and an established life. Personally, I am ready to return in the next year or two, but later is unlikely.
Is there any hope of recruiting IT specialists for the military among those who left? No, that is pointless, as there is simply no IT management in the army for this, and moreover, they are no motivated. It doesn’t have normal management on the battlefield, as we can see, and the IT sphere is a different story. The army has Voenmeh (
Baltic State Technical University – TR) graduates, they are accustomed to working in organizations where “you’re the boss, I’m the idiot” – I think they will have to be content with such personnel.
The reasons why people left are not only the war.