Due to the situation between Ukraine and Russia, IT specialists began to leave Russia en masse. This situation is negatively affected by the sanctions imposed by the West, since specialists in this field do not have access to modern technologies against the backdrop of sanctions.
The Russian authorities are making every effort to keep IT specialists in the country. There is no talk of a direct ban on leaving – instead, the state is working on various incentive measures. For example, in early March 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the introduction of the third package of measures to support the IT industry in Russia. One of the main points in it was a deferment from the army, provided to employees of IT companies. The companies themselves have received significant tax benefits, and now they can count on various grants and preferential loans. But these measures could not completely prevent the outflow of IT specialists, and according to some reports, more than 70 thousand specialists in this field and hundreds of thousands of workers in other fields left Russia.
Where do IT specialists migrate to?
The USA and Germany remain the most popular destinations for IT specialists. But the Russians do not bypass the post-Soviet countries, as it is easiest for them to adapt in these countries, due to the spread of the Russian language, low prices for rental property and the opening of borders between countries. One of the countries that IT professionals choose to move to is Kazakhstan. Residents of Russia, Ukraine, and even Belarus continue to come to Kazakhstan.
Kristina: “There are no such restrictions in Kazakhstan”
Christina also flew from Moscow to Karaganda. She comes from Kazakhstan, but has been living in Russia since the age of 12. A mathematician by education, but later she found herself in the field of IT, worked as an analyst and developer. Now the girl lives with relatives and is looking for work.
“My move turned out to be spontaneous, although I thought about it. I made the decision when the blocking of Russian cards happened and I realized that in order to travel outside Russia and at the same time be somehow financially free, I need to open a non-Russian card, I decided to do it in Kazakhstan. This was the root cause. There was another motivation. The Russian financial system is now under sanctions, and the government itself is also introducing a number of restrictions,” she says.
According to her, for example, it is forbidden to receive currency from abroad, the money transfer system has stopped working.
“In terms of the development of my professional activity, this interfered with me, because I had just started working with an American company and already understood that I would not be able to receive a salary. There are no such restrictions in Kazakhstan, so this gives me the freedom to work where I want. At the moment, I am interested in my development as a specialist, the opportunity to learn something and a competitive salary. If I stayed in the Russian Federation, then I would have to aim only at the Russian market. I can’t say that it’s terrible, but then there could be no question of a competitive salary. And especially this factor does not suit those who have good English. This is probably the reason why these people came here. In addition, many have a fear that it will suddenly be impossible to leave, or visas may be introduced that prevent the departure of IT specialists, ”says Kristina.
How are things in neighboring Uzbekistan?
Deputy Minister of Investments of Uzbekistan Shukhrat Vafaev said that IT specialists began to move en masse from the Russian Federation to Uzbekistan. And not only for the deployment of their projects, but also just for remote work. In his opinion, the relocation of IT specialists is a very good signal for Uzbekistan and its economy. The specialists themselves want to work in good conditions, without Western sanctions and any restrictions. According to Vafaev, IT companies even export entire teams to Uzbekistan.
Aleksey from Moscow (name changed at the request of the interlocutor – author) is one of the Russian “IT people” who emigrated to Uzbekistan.
Alexei says that in Russia he has no opportunity to continue his work.
In Russia, we have lost the opportunity to work. Services are blocked due to sanctions, there are problems with financial settlements. Western companies refuse to work with our firms. That is why many people leave. I chose Uzbekistan because I was born in Uzbekistan. I have relatives and friends here. Let’s see if the situation changes, we will return to Russia. If not, we will go to another country, – says Alexey.
Why Uzbekistan is tempting for IT-specialists?
On February 25, Uzbekistan announced a relocation program for foreign IT specialists. And at the beginning of this month, Uzbekistan began issuing IT visas – special work visas for specialists and investors in the IT industry. In Uzbekistan, they promise to help foreign specialists find housing, find a job, simplify the procedure for obtaining a residence permit, issue a visitor visa to their families, and enroll their children in kindergartens and schools. A representative of the Tashkent IT park told Ozodlik that over the past month, about 2,000 IT specialists have moved to Uzbekistan as part of the TashRush program.
“Not only IT specialists, but also dozens of IT companies are moving to Uzbekistan. However, we cannot tell you the names of these companies,” said an employee of the IT park. Minister for Development of Information Technologies and Communications of Uzbekistan
Sherzod Shermatov promised that the residents of the IT park would be exempt from paying all corporate taxes and customs payments until 2028, and that IT companies wishing to move to the country would be provided with the necessary infrastructure. According to Shermatov, thanks to the involvement of leading foreign experts, the Uzbek IT park can become a connecting IT hub in Central Asia.
How are things with us?
The number of relocated IT specialists could not be found either on the Internet or in other sources. How could Tajikistan attract them? Due to the influx of specialists in neighboring Tashkent, rental property prices are moving up, Tajikistan could attract real estate prices, natural beauty, openness and hospitality of the local population. But there are a number of factors that can repel specialists in this field.
Let’s start with the inalienable need of every IT professional – access to high-speed Internet. It’s no secret that the speed of the Internet in our country leaves much to be desired and the prices for the Internet are among the highest in the region.
One of our compatriots told why Tajikistan is not attractive for the migration of IT specialists:
Basically, specialists traveled to countries with which there are no visa regimes and where there are more favorable conditions for work and life. Unfortunately, in Tajikistan there are no conditions that are in neighboring countries, for example, in Uzbekistan. Our problems begin with the purchase of tickets and end with monetary policy, when difficulties arise with the acquisition of foreign currency. In Uzbekistan, the quality of services is much higher. In addition, we have an unstable and expensive Internet, Firuz notes.
According to the young man, Tajikistan needs to do a lot to become attractive for IT specialists. But without legislative reforms, changes in infrastructure and conditions for attracting the same foreign specialists, it will be a very long time. The young man also complains about the lack of any information about the country.
In his opinion, when a foreign specialist does not easily find information in the public domain, he will not consider this country as a relocation. The same Uzbekistan in this direction is conducting a very wide advertising campaign to attract tourists.
With hope for the future
There is no technopark in Tajikistan, at the moment it is in the plans, it has been in the plans for the second year. In the disseminated information, the State Unitary Enterprise reports that, becoming the first in the country, IT-Park will be a synthesis of the integration of science, education and high technologies. At the same time, it is not reported when the idea will be implemented.
The idea of creating a technopark was announced last year, but then the expert community pointed to a number of problems that have not been resolved to this day and the absence of any movement towards eliminating these obstacles.
The main problems are low-quality and unstable Internet, as well as the lack of political will and support, which makes this area very vulnerable. But looking at the truth and figures in the eye, the IT sector could bring a large amount to the economy of our country.
Since the development of this area is a priority in many countries, and the value of shares of IT giants and their employees is only growing. Also, the development of this area would give impetus to the development of information technology and encourage young people to be trained in specialties that are so in demand in this industry. But, there are factors hindering the development of this industry, and without proper funding and interest in the development of the IT sector, the problems will not be solved.