YEREVAN — Armenian Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan claimed on Tuesday that Russian tech companies are moving operations to Armenia to evade crippling Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
“About a dozen companies have already effectively relocated, while several others are on their way,” he said, adding that many others want to do the same.
Kerobyan did not name any of those Russian firms or give details of their alleged relocation. He said only that most of them are involved in the tech sector and oriented towards “the Western markets.”
“The latest restrictions do not allow them to do the job from their country,” said the minister.
Russian tech professionals interviewed by RFE/RL’s Armenian Service confirmed Kerobyan’s claims. One of them, Samson Karapetyan, is a 25-year-old system data analyst who moved from Moscow to Yerevan recently.
“I have friends, not just ethnic Armenians, who are planning to move to Armenia,” said Karapetyan. “There are also many companies that are fully relocating from Moscow to Yerevan because things are quieter and more stable here and the [Armenian] dram is more stable than the [Russian] ruble.”
An engineer working for a Russian tech firm has already booked flight to Yerevan. She said she decided to emigrate from Russia not only for economic reasons but also in protest against her country’s attack on Ukraine.
“Our company promised to help those employees who are planning to leave but they didn’t say how,” said the young woman, who did not want to be identified. “That is why I’m leaving on my own.”
Yevgeny, a Russian software engineer, is also planning to relocate in Armenia. He said he is confident about finding a job in the country’s burgeoning information technology (IT) sector employing an estimated 20,000 people.
“My choice was between Armenia and Serbia,” he explained. “In both countries attitudes towards Russians are good … There is no language barrier and local cultures are understandable. But my guess is that Armenia is now more inclined to receive technology specialists.”
The sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union include measures aimed at restricting Russia’s access to high technology and complicating Russian companies’ financial transactions abroad.
Kerobyan claimed that some Ukrainian firms are also showing an interest in setting up shop in Armenia but did not name them either. He said the Armenian Ministry of Economy has already set up a working group tasked with facilitating the relocation of Russian, Ukrainian and other foreign entities.