On the borders of Russia .. Programmers are wanted for security

On the evening of February 23, a few hours before Vladimir Putin’s army crossed into Ukrainian territory, a message from Amazon arrived in the mailbox of Vladimir Smirnov, a programmer from St. Petersburg.

The letter contains work permits for a software engineering job in Ireland, and Smirnov began interviews for the job at Amazon in January as concerns about Putin’s plans for war in Ukraine increased.

“The fact that war is really coming became clear during Putin’s televised speech to the nation, in which he recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk peoples’ republics, two Ukrainian regions that have been under Russian control since 2014,” he said. Tech Crunch Smirnov Quoted. say.

“He gave his verdict to the nation, and indirectly declared war,” Smirnov told the website. “My whole family watched and trembled this evil speech.”

On the same morning, the website said, Smirnov had no doubt he had to leave Russia. After getting dressed, he went for a COVID-19 test so he could travel to neighboring Georgia as soon as possible, after which he would travel to Ireland.

Like him, Shevchenko, CEO of start-up WeLoveNoCode, decided to leave Russia.

Fearing martial law in Russia, which forced the borders to close, Shevchenko bought a plane ticket to Portugal, where he is still present.

“First they close the borders, then they force you to kill, I am unfortunately fit for military service, but I do not want to kill innocents,” Shevchenko told the website.

Natalia Chebotar, a former senior manager at Yandex and one of Russia’s leading educational technology specialists, said she was leaving Russia with her family when Putin ordered that “all nuclear deterrents be placed on standby”.

She bought a ticket to Georgia – where Russians can stay without a visa for up to a year – when one after the other IT companies and services started leaving Russia.

And the website quoted a programmer from Moscow, who did not want to be identified, that his work computer became a “useless piece of plastic” after two days of the war, as the program stopped working and his company was no longer able was to receive payments from his foreign colleagues or pay the salaries of his employees in Europe After Russia was separated from Swift in early March.

According to estimates by the Russian Association of Electronic Communications, about 70,000 IT professionals fled Russia in February and March.

Experts expect, according to the website, that Russia could lose another 100,000 specialists in April, which is currently hampered by the need to complete their possessions in Moscow, as well as high ticket prices.

Behind the scenes, Google is already withdrawing its team from Russia, and the British start-up Arrival has moved its Russian employees to other countries.

According to Kommersant, the Miro platform has moved its team from the Russian city of Perm to Amsterdam.

Many may not be able to leave, according to the website, which said the departing IT specialists are receiving special attention from the Russian Federal Security Service – a government organization linked to the killing and poisoning of Russians who oppose Putin’s regime.

As soon as the war began in Ukraine, the interrogation of IT personnel crossing the Russian border became widespread, the website said.

The website quoted a Moscow moto-design artist as telling the story of his arrest by customs officials on February 28 at passport control at Sheremetyevo airport, where he was taken to a room and questioned by a FSB officer.

He was asked what he thought of the “special military operation” in Ukraine and whether he knew anything about hackers linked to Anonymous.

And on March 8, before leaving Novosibirsk airport, an employee in civilian clothes interviewed a manager of another IT company.

“He asked me in what languages ​​I could write, if I could hack programs, or I know of white, gray or black hats, and I said I was not involved in hacking, and he replied, ‘It’s a pity , ‘”the driver told the website.

Following the news about the border surveys, a channel called “Russian Border Control” appeared on Telegram to allow users to share their experiences.

The channel manager, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he published more than 500 cross-border stories within a month, most of which showcased the IT industry in one way or another.

On March 8, more than a week after the outbreak of war, a programmer traveling from Moscow to Tbilisi indicated that everyone was allowed to cross the border, but that if the guards used the word “electronic specialist” heard from any traveler, he was taken away for questioning.

Another programmer for the website said he was searched at the airport in the southern Russian city of Mineralnye Vody on the ninth of last March, saying that his phone had been checked for the words “protest”, “Ukraine”, “Putin “and” war “in chat and browser history.

Another traveler, who asked not to be named, said that as soon as the war in Ukraine began, interrogation of technology workers crossing the Russian border became commonplace.

One IT professional said his devices had been taken from him, with a promise to return them upon his arrival and the words: “Let’s leave the secrets of the motherland in the motherland.”

The Russian authorities did not comment on these inspections.

The website, referring to testimonials from travelers, says that travelers are only stopped if they work in the field of information technology.

According to an immigration specialist who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation from the Russian government, interrogations at the border are another way to intimidate citizens.

“Intellectuals are leaving Russia – people who have access to a large amount of information and critical thinking. 99.9% of them are IT professionals. What does this mean for the government? It considers them extremists and enemies of the state,” he said.

“It will also be much easier to control the situation in the country once the brain is abroad,” he added.

To keep the specialists in Russia, Putin signed a decree on March 8 on incentives for IT companies.

Income tax will be reduced from 3% to zero and IT workers under the age of 27 will receive a deferral of military service – a major incentive in a country where all men between the ages of 18 and 27 are subject to compulsory military service conscription in Russia, especially at a time when the war.

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