YEREVAN — In an interview with Russian RTVI, Armenian Minister of Economy Vahan Kerobyan said because of such factors as developed IT sector, friendly business environment, safety, good food and hospitality, quite a large number of Russian IT specialists chose Armenia as their new place of residence.
In his estimate, more than 50 but less than 70,000 Russian IT engineers have arrived in Armenia this year.
According to him, about 850 companies with Russian roots and 350 individual entrepreneurs are registered in Armenia. In general, 40,000 legal entities and individuals opened about 100,000 accounts in Armenian banks, Kerobyan said.
The list of top 20 IT-companies, who are among the largest taxpayers of Armenia, includes several recently opened companies with Russian connections, said the Minister.
In particular, TeamWork, a subsidiary of Perm-based Miro, created a team collaboration platform with the same name. DevSoft AM develops software tools and user interface components for international vendor DevExpress. American video card developer NVIDIA, which stopped sales in Russia, opened an office and will build a research center in Armenia.
“Yandex opened an office in Yerevan in July and is expanding its staff in Armenia. They have a total of about 1,000 employees (but I could be wrong),” the minister said.
Russian companies are hiring specialists in Armenia, which “adds pepper to the wounds” of local IT companies, which are already suffering from fluctuations in the national currency, the minister said.
At the same time, “an acute shortage of high-class and experienced developers (senior engineers) in Armenia has been replaced by a shortage of newcomers (junior).
“But this problem is easily solved by many retraining programs. We see many people leaving their bank jobs or other industries for IT, and these vacancies are closing quickly,” Kerobyan added.
Armenia is “not trying to create” a “tax haven” for immigrants, the minister stressed: “If it’s all unsustainable, it could do even more harm than good.”
“We are working to ensure that the environment and life in Armenia are competitive compared to other technological centers of the world,” he said.
The influx of Russians brings “great benefits to the economy” and “a significant contribution to the development of society,” Kerobyan said.
“We see that there are new clubs, there are new bars, there are new communities, eco-activists who collect garbage. We even see volunteers helping rescuers in some distress situations. These are active people who integrate into our society. And we see that society is also very openly accepting these people,” the minister said.
“We are trying to create a good environment for people who are generally in a bad situation – they are forced to take such steps. Before all these events, we already had a plan to change Yerevan to make it a comfortable city for talented people. We were on our way to that goal but what happened has accelerated the process,” said Kerobyan.