The decimation of Russia's tech industry has accelerated since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but the problem began years earlier, according to this piece from MIT Technology Review:
"According to [Russian] government figures, about 100,000 IT specialists left Russia in 2022, or some 10% of the tech workforce—a number that is likely an underestimate. ... In Russia, technology was one of the few sectors where people felt they could succeed on merit instead of connections. The industry also maintained a spirit of openness: Russian entrepreneurs won international funding and made deals all over the world. For a time, the Kremlin seemed to embrace this openness too, inviting international companies to invest in Russia. But cracks in Russia’s tech industry started appearing well before the war. For more than a decade, the government has attempted to put Russia’s internet and its most powerful tech companies in a tight grip, threatening an industry that once promised to bring the country into the future. ... Between 2015 and 2021, the IT sector in Russia was responsible for more than a third of the growth in the country’s GDP, reaching 3.7 trillion rubles ($47.8 billion) in 2021. ... VKontakte, often described as Russia’s Facebook, was 'de facto nationalized' after its founder, Pavel Durov, was squeezed out of the company in 2014 and Kremlin-aligned oligarchs assumed control, says [Ruben] Enikolopov [assistant professor at the Barcelona School of Economics]. After fleeing the country, Durov, who would later go on to create the messaging app Telegram, described Russia as “incompatible with Internet business.” ... After international sanctions were imposed on Russia following its annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Russian government started promoting the idea of its own sovereign internet, the RuNet. ... The country has worked to replace such popular international sites with domestic versions. To take the place of Google Play and the Apple AppStore, VK, together with the Ministry of Digital Development, launched a domestic app store called RuStore. TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube have homemade analogues such as Yappy, Rossgram, and RuTube."
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