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Russia acknowledges sanctions could hurt its tech companies

Cuts taxes, offers subsidies, defers military service for developers – and preps for internet isolation

Russia's Ministry of Digital Development has acknowledged that sanctions may send its tech businesses to the wall, and announced a raft of measures designed to stop that happening – among them ending dependency on internet infrastructure hosted offshore and disconnecting from the global internet.

News of the industry support measures comes from an FAQ published by the Ministry on Saturday, which The Register has translated with online services. Among the questions asked is the poser: "What to do if IT specialists massively lose their jobs due to the suspension of the activities of foreign companies or a reduction in the export revenue of Russian developers?"

The answer is that Russia plans a round of subsidies aimed at sparking the development of software it's felt may soon be hard to source or operate. Other measures outlined in the FAQ are the ability to offer jobs to foreign workers without first having visas approved, a zero per cent tax rate for tech companies involved in activities the Kremlin feels are necessary, preferential mortgage rates for techies, and even exemption from military service.

Tech companies have also been offered loans at interest rates of just three per cent – on the condition they don't lay off any staff and index their wages. Discounts on insurance are another offer.

The Ministry is accepting applications for the schemes mentioned above, and will decide which firms receive the help on March 15.

Of course by then, Russia may be disconnected from the global internet. Independent Belarussian outlet Nexta has shared what appear to be Ministry documents describing preparations to end reliance on DNS servers and hosting infrastructure based outside Russia, plus advice to reset passwords and ensure organisations are hardened against attacks.

The Register has been unable to verify the source of the document, but has found chat on Russian sites that treat it as authentic and interpret it as a directive to harden Russian infrastructure so it can run in the event of further sanctions or attacks by nation-states or hacktivists.

Russia has, however, already announced it will offer free TLS certificates for entities who've had their certs revoked.

Between that service and the new assistance packages, Russia's tech sector certainly appears to be under pressure. ®

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