Although the exact numbers are unknown, tens of thousands of employees in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector have fled Russia to work remotely abroad since Vladimir Putin attacked Ukraine on 24 September. February and, furthermore, he ordered the mobilization of at least 300,000 men to be sent to the front in September.
But some of them may be forced to return because of a new law that Russian lawmakers are considering passing by early this year that plans to ban telecommuting for some professions. The authorities hope to encourage the return of these Russian employees who have taken advantage of the facilities of the ICT sector to escape their country. The Russian government estimates that there are about 100,000 specialists.
Hardline lawmakers, fearful that more IT professionals will end up working in NATO countries and inadvertently sharing sensitive security information, have proposed banning some ICT specialists from leaving Russia.
But the Digital Ministry warned in December that a total ban could make Russian companies in the sector less effective and therefore less competitive: "In the end, whoever can attract the most talented staff, including from abroad, will win." he remembered.
While many disillusioned young Russians have gone to countries like Latvia, Georgia or Armenia, where the Russian language is widely spoken, several have taken a bigger leap: to Argentina.
This is the case of Roman Tulnov, a 36-year-old ICT specialist, who says he does not plan to return to Russia under any circumstances. "He had wanted to leave for a long time. On February 24, everything became clear. I understood that there was no longer life in Russia," he told Reuters. Tulnov attributes precisely to the partial mobilization the fact of being able to work six time zones apart. "Before the mobilization, nobody thought of giving the go-ahead for people to move to who knows where."
Product designer Yulia, 26, estimates that a quarter of her team would rather resign than return to Russia under duress. "Offering a no-choice option is a bit like negotiating with terrorists: 'Go back or we'll make your job impossible, and that of your company and employees,'" she says.
In this context, the powerful speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament or State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, has once said that he advocates higher taxes for workers who have moved abroad.
But some expatriate Russians might also stop paying taxes altogether. Personal income tax of 13% is automatically deducted from employees who are residents, but those who work for Russian-based companies from abroad are free to do as they please.
Professional online poker player Sasha, 37, who also lives in Argentina, tells Reuters that he has stopped taxing Russia: "When you pay taxes you support the state and its military expansion. I'm not paying and I don't plan to." .