“As Russia sees tech brain drain, other nations hope to gain” – TTG

Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) team won the prestigious international programming championship ACM ICPC in 2019 for the second consecutive year. With this victory, MSU students outperformed students of MIT and University of Tokyo.

By LIUDAS DAPKUS, Thu, March 31, 2022, 10:07 AM EDT

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Russia’s tech workers are looking for safer and more secure professional pastures. By one estimate, up to 70,000 computer specialists, spooked by a sudden frost in the business and political climate, have bolted the country since Russia invaded Ukraine five weeks ago. Many more are expected to follow. For some countries, Russia’s loss is being seen as their potential gain and an opportunity to bring fresh expertise to their own high-tech industries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has noticed the brain drain even in the throes of a war that, according to the U.N. refugee agency, has caused more than 4 million people to flee Ukraine and displaced millions more within the country. This week, Putin reacted to the exodus of tech professionals by approving legislation to eliminate income taxes between now and 2024 for individuals who work for information technology companies.

Some people in the vast new pool of high-tech exiles say they are in no rush to return home. An elite crowd furnished with European Union visas has relocated to Poland or the Baltic nations of Latvia and Lithuania. A larger contingent has fallen back on countries where Russians do not need visas: Armenia, Georgia and the former Soviet republics in Central Asia. In normal times, millions of less-skilled laborers emigrate from those economically shaky countries to comparatively more prosperous Russia.

The scale of the apparent brain drain was laid bare last week by Sergei Plugotarenko, the head of the Russian Association for Electronic Communications, an industry lobbying group. “The first wave – 50,000-70,000 people – has already left,” Plugotarenko told a parliamentary committee. Only the high cost of flights out of the country prevented an even larger mass exit. Another 100,000 tech workers nevertheless might leave Russia in April, Plugotarenko predicted.


Comment: This is a secondary effect of Western sanctions placed on the Russian economy. This continuing brain drain will be a terrible loss for the country. The same thing happened in 1991 when the USSR and the Soviet Academy of Sciences collapsed. At least there was a plan behind that collapse. The Academy wrote an open letter to academic and research institutes around the world to take in their scientists so that they could continue their research until Russia was once again on her feet. I still have a copy of that open letter. There were several German research institutes where Russian became the primary language. It was a field day for a case officer.

I don’t think there is a planned return for the programmers leaving Russia now. Putin is not likely to end his invasion/occupation anytime soon. Nor is the West going to end their sanctions soon. Like I said, this is a terrible loss for Russia, but a windfall for the Western software industry. These guys are damned good. I knew a Polish informatics and AI researcher who was a product of the Technical University of Kharkov. He was one brilliant bastard who’s stated dream was to build an AI machine that could make a leap of faith.



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33 Responses to “As Russia sees tech brain drain, other nations hope to gain” – TTG

  1. James says:

    Maybe they can fix the F-35s broken avionics.

    • James says:

      To be a bit less snarky – this issue ties into something I find interesting. To have a well educated populace you have to teach them English. But if you teach them English it is easier and more attractive for them to emigrate. Bit of a catch-22 for Russia’s leadership.

      • TTG says:


        I don’t think that’s necessary in Russia. Russia has an excellent education and research system which should help them weather this brain drain. But being multi-lingual is something we in the US are way behind most other nations. We ridiculously expect everyone else to speak our language.

  2. zmajcek says:


    many if not most of these 50-70k are various youtubers, instagram influencers and freelancers who suddenly found themselves unable to receive payments.
    Many will return after they figure out how to setup accounts/companies in neighbouring countries so that they can get paid in Russia. Armenia, Georgia and others will certainly find a way to profit from this new “industry”.

  3. Jovan P says:

    This is very interesting. As stated in the comment by TTG, the difference from the 90’s is that then the emigrants were mostly scientists and engineers. Now the pressure is on the Russian tech workers, which is a very broad term. Many of these people have small companies or are entrepreneurs which provide services to the West and need to find a way to cash in (gamers, software engineers, etc), which currently they cannot do from Russia.

    It is expected that many of these people will not want to move to West with their families, because of the current Anti-Russian hysteria, which makes moving to other third countries more likely. All the same, if the Russians don’t reverse this trend, they’ll have a problem.

  4. Matthew says:

    At a certain point, these stories become background noise. I have read an endless series of this stories since the early 1990’s. They long precede Putin and will continue long after.

    And yet, Russia endures….

    • Datil D says:

      ‘And yet, Russia endures….”

      Right now more than endure, while the sanctions are being felt around the world the Ruble is already back to pre-invasion value.

  5. Fred says:

    The Sacremento Bee reported on the the Russian IT drain? I wonder if they will comment on the US IT jobs exported to India, the H1B influx of IT workers from India, or even the recent comments from the US “warning” India about buying Russian oil?

    Opps, sorry, the byline on the Bee’s post is from “associated press”. So now they are just recycling stories like they did with Russia Collusion. Speaking of which are the 12 trolls who defeated Obama-Biden’s defense of the election leaving Russia? As to the author of said puff piece, he’s apparently a Lithuanian reported who did a nice piece on Chernobyl tourism.

    • LeaNder says:

      Speaking of which are the 12 trolls who defeated Obama-Biden’s defense of the election leaving Russia?

      Fred, you may recall, I’ll never join the Trump support fan base? BUT the larger Russia collusion story and its relation to the West’s larger russiaphobic power struggles indeed seem more interesting and important than ever. …

      But pray tell, what exactly did the 12 trolls do? They have left Russia looking for evidence in the Ukraine now? 12? Who are they?

      • Fred says:


        You mean you still don’t understand that there were never Russian trolls, 12 or any other number, involved in all those fraudulent stories?

  6. Leith says:

    Too bad they can’t remain within Russia and replace the ex-KGB run Kleptocracy with a new and beneficial Netocracy or Cyberocracy. Getting rid of corruption and favoritism. It could be helpful to those Russian people at the lower end of the pecking order.

    On the other hand, maybe not. An advanced education in math cannot promise honesty or virtue. The Meritocracy in the ancient Chinese civil service was still ruled by an iron fist sitting on the imperial throne.

    • TTG says:


      Maybe someday, but i have my doubts. Several of the Russians I knew told me of the efforts of the AS scientists, hard and soft, to fill the gaps in state and municipal leadership immediately after the fall of the USSR when the soviet kleptocrats scattered. They had high hopes, but they were soon replaced by a different brand of kleptocrats heavily influenced by the intel and security services. Some were the same as the old kleptocrats who just shed their communist party membership.

    • Sam says:

      Technocracy? Hey, we went through that with The Science right here at home. No. We need less technocracy and more liberty. More open and competitive markets not only for goods and services but also ideas, art, literature and political speech. We need less collusion among oligarchs, political leadership and the national security apparatus to propagandize the American people and tougher enforcement of the rule of law especially among the corrupt top ruling echelon.

    • Fred says:

      Leith, “a new and beneficial Netocracy or Cyberocracy”

      Thanks for the April Fools joke.

  7. Leith says:

    TTG – “I knew a Polish informatics and AI researcher who was a product of the Technical University of Kharkov.”

    Many of the prestigious universities of Kharkiv (aka Kharkov) have had their campus destroyed by Russian shelling and air strikes. The National University there is attempting to relocate. Some others are sticking it out in Kharkiv.

  8. Sam says:

    I am constantly asked about atmosphere in Russia. I am making a THREAD🧵to give an impression of how it feels in Moscow but also to explain how what I call “A few months theory” reigns supreme 1/19


    I believe the sentiments expressed in the above post by Greg Yudin accurately depicts the Russian home front. IMO, the neocons ain’t gonna give up this “golden opportunity” for another gravy train for the Beltway Bandits and to use the Ukraine invasion to keep poking the bear. There will be no resolution to the military conflict anytime soon. Even if Russian forces close the “cauldron” now, they will be under continuous attack for some time. As the UK defense minister Ben Wallace noted the UK is gonna be sending artillery, counter-battery and other heavy gear. The Russians can’t just move to a defensive posture as they will be under constant attack for a lengthy period. How will their home front psychology change as more and more body bags keep returning home? How long can their youth be conscripted and sent to the meat grinder before a backlash builds? We saw how opposition among the youth developed during the Vietnam war and how that caused schisms in our society.

    • d74 says:

      In case of a war of attrition on the borders of Donbass, Russians and locals will suffer. The locals have had 8 years to get used to the artillery fire with 9000 to 12000 dead (?) in 8 years. They are used to it, they will keep it up. The Ukrainian conscripts will also suffer.
      Who will be harder to suffer?

      For the moment, the whole of Ukrainian territory is open to Russian missiles and perhaps aviation.
      As in the war of attrition between Israel and Egypt, (1968-1970), the air force is the offensive element, the ground troops and tanks are just for pinpricks,. (Otherwise very good for making headlines in the media.)

      • Sam says:

        Don’t preclude the possibility that Ukraine will also field missiles and armed drones with increasing volume. The neocons want this to continue. There’s money being appropriated for it.

        • Bill Roche says:

          Sam your comment begs the question. Who are the “neocons” and what advantage is a prolonged war to them.

          • Sam says:


            Max Boot is a good example of a neocon. Some would label him a ziocon. He was a big promoter of the Iraq invasion and played a not insignificant role in propagating the WMD hoax and that Saddam was linked to Osama. Here’s his recent WSJ oped.

            It is ridiculous that the West hesitates to comply with Zelensky’s requests for weapons like tanks, airplanes, and S-300s.

            The Russian warmonger is on his heels. The Ukrainians are winning. We just need to give them the tools to finish the job.


            The neocon list would include Dave Frum, Billy Kristol, the Kagans, Victoria Nuland, etc. Just go back and see who fanned the hysteria of Iraq WMD and mushroom clouds. And pushed for regime change in Libya and Syria and supported every Israeli use of force. They’re very good propagandists and punch well above their weight. Highly placed in the corporate media, the DC cocktail circuit and among the Beltway Bandits. How much of the trillions we spent in Afghanistan and Iraq got siphoned in the Beltway? They are cynical opportunists who pushed the Russia Collusion hoax because they were all in with Hillary and our “organs of state security”. You’ll have to ask them what their motivations are for regime change around the world. Of course I don’t see any gains from a national interest perspective in our military adventurism in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

            However now that Russia has invaded Ukraine albeit due to our provocations since the fall of the Berlin Wall including Clinton’s bombing of Belgrade and the expansion of NATO, it appears there is a strong enough momentum to back Ukraine with weapons sufficient to wound and drain Putin’s Russia.

        • Sam says:

          Details are very limited at this time and are likely going to change as more information comes available, but reports indicate that a pair of Ukrainian Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters crossed low over the border into Russia early Friday morning and struck an oil storage facility in Belgorod. If these details stick, the pre-dawn strike is the riskiest direct attack on Russian interests outside Ukraine by Ukrainian forces since the war began five weeks ago — it would also seemingly be the first strike launched by manned aircraft against Russian territory since at least the Korean War.


          IMO, within the next 3-4 months we’ll see Ukraine receive significant quantities of sophisticated and lethal weaponry that could possibly strike assets inside Russia close to the Ukrainian border. Think of the supply chain that was put in place to arm and finance the mujahideen including OBL in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. Ukraine is going to be significantly easier.

      • Philip Owen says:

        In 2021, 25 civilians from both sides died in the Donbas due to shelling, unexploded munitions and heart attacks/strokes waiting at check points. 15 were on occupied territory.

        This is the Russian claim of genocide.

  9. mcohen says:

    Going back to bed.The Russian special holiday has nothing to offer in the way of spiritual enlightenment.I will cease to read about it or comment

    Wrote this poem called scavengers of war

    There is a tension in the air
    The stamping of feet
    Said the wolf to the bear
    When do we eat

    Black crows have gathered
    In field and grove
    Vultures are sighted
    Circling high above

    Over the horizon
    The clash of armor and sword
    Fiery flames have risen
    In the name of the Lord

    To the awaiting scavengers
    Go the spoils of war
    There are no victories
    Waiting at deaths door.

    Fields of flanders

    Here do bulbs lie
    Buried beneath the earth
    Deaf to cry and caw

    Roots deeper still
    Steeped in blood memories
    Evade deaths claw

    They rest quietly
    In the fields of the fallen
    Awaiting springs thaw

    A quilt of colour
    To once again cover
    Wounds rendered raw

  10. Leith says:

    Ordered a Ukrainian flag from the local general store. Must be a big demand as I got put on a long waiting list. But I’m thinking now that when it comes it will probably have been made by Russia’s ally, China, some irony in that.

    So am going to cancel and see if I can order one instead from the Ukraine itself. If not, maybe I can sweet talk my granddaughter into making it.

  11. different clue says:

    So the PutinGov plans to offer zero income tax to any Russian who works for a digital company in Russia through 2024.

    Well, if the rest of the techie Russians stay for that, then it is at least partway about the money. If the departed techies return for that, then it is very much about the money.

    But if Russia’s bright young cyber-techies keep leaving the country even after this no-income-tax bill passes , then it isn’t about the money.

  12. Sam says:

    It appears the Russians were mauled in their retreat from the Kiev area.


    Then there’s Zelensky claiming he won’t stop ….

    A defiant Volodymyr Zelensky says that Ukraine will never concede any other territory and his people will not accept anything less than the defeat of Russia.


    With the US gearing up a supply chain of weapons to Ukraine it would seem the prospects of any cessation of hostilities in the near term are remote.

    On a related topic this thread by Pippa Malmgren who served in an economic advisory role in the Bush administration is interesting.


    1. Sergey Karagonov: “it’s about the final crash of the international system that was created after WWII and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We are witnessing the collapse of an economic system – of the world economic system – globalisation in this form is finished.

    If “globalization in this form is finished” it would be a huge boon for the bottom 80% of Americans. Re-shoring manufacturing has both economic and national security benefits. I am heartened that Silicon Valley deep tech startups are also exploring the next generation of manufacturing technologies.

    No longer tolerating the decline of American industry.


    • TTG says:


      I’ve seen several headlines about globalization being over. I doubt all countries will become self-sufficient, eschewing all imports and exports, but trends will be in that direction. The globalist push for world trade has acquired a foul odor, at least it should. Energy markets will necessarily realign and any country which can will increase the move to renewable energy. Maybe Big Ag will be forced to move toward food crops rather than export driven cash crops. That would be a damned good thing.

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