Head of the Ministry of Digital Development: IT specialists are returning from the West because of Russophobia. MIA data suggests otherwise.

During the St. Petersburg Forum, Russian officials and ministers were actively talking about the fact that IT specialists who left Russia after the start of the war are suffering in the West because of the “cancellation culture”, and therefore most of them have already returned and work for Russian companies. In particular, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Chernyshenko in an interview with RIA Novosti stated:

“There are no exact numbers. There were populist stuffing about the mass exodus, which is not confirmed. We see that the majority of IT specialists who reacted emotionally and left, returned for one reason or another.
For our IT specialists, now is just a golden age, when they can finally create solutions that will replace those who have left, and now there is very high competition. We see that the number of accredited IT companies is growing. By the end of the year, we expect that there will be about 35 thousand of them in the register of independent IT companies - their number has increased seven times since last year. This also reflects the growing business in this direction. That is, now we are seeing a renaissance of IT business in our country.”

Maksut Shadayev, head of the Ministry of Digital Development, echoes him in an interview with RBC:

“Contracts with our developers fall, probably, initially fell into the general “cancellation culture”, so to speak, and restrictions on working with Russian companies. And the second trend that I now see is that, unfortunately for those who left, there are often problems with employment. Because even those who left want to get a job, unfortunately, there is a certain level of distrust towards Russian developers, they are called spies.
I can say that probably half of them continue to work for Russian companies. Because during the COVID pandemic, in our IT industry, as in many other industries, in general, the culture of remote work has been formed, and for developers, this is generally such a natural process.”

However, on Tuesday, the Ministry of Internal Affairs suddenly released the "exact figures" that Chernyshenko so lacked. And the picture is not at all rosy: according to Deputy Minister Igor Zubov, Russia, after the outflow of specialists, is experiencing a shortage of about 170,000 workers.

“We have a large outflow of IT specialists due to sanctions, the need is about 170,000 people ... A million people are employed in the industry,” Zubov said at a committee meeting in the Federation Council.

His statement was made as part of the consideration of the law on the right to obtain a residence permit in Russia in a simplified manner for foreign IT specialists and their families. According to Zubov, how many specialists will actually arrive depends on the attractiveness of this measure.

What kind of “renaissance of the IT business in the country” is we talking about, if Russia lacks its own IT specialists so much that new laws are required to attract foreigners, one can only guess.

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