Witnesses Against War #2: Web-designer, currently outside Russia

22 May 2022

Witness #2: a web-designer, currently outside Russia

Source: Witnesses Against War

Witnesses Against War is an anonymous international group of journalists, writers, historians and translators, who live in Moscow and London. For reasons of security, their project is anonymous. In addition to the above websiste, you can also find them on Instagram / Инстаграм  and Telegram / Телеграм.

“The current situation has plunged me and my colleagues into deep despair, which has an impact on levels of efficiency at work. I empathise with those Ukrainians who are suffering from the actions of Vladimir Putin and the Russian army.

The war is a personal tragedy for me. I am convinced that the Russian reality that I am familiar with, will continue to collapse. Therefore, I was forced to emigrate from Russia with my wife and child, having bought tickets at a triple price. I soon afterwards quit my favourite job in a large Russian company, where I held a managerial position. We do not plan to return for the foreseeable future. Of my acquaintances, at least 4 more have left the country. I do not see a massive wave of emigration amongst people in product design, although the atmosphere at working meetings has seemed tense lately.

Product designers are vulnerable because our main Figma tool is an American cloud service that will not be easy to replace. I see a real possibility that designers will be forced to use pirated software in order to continue doing their job. I came across a statement from another large company that they are laying off about 50 IT specialists, including 4 designers. One of the designers I knew, who worked at a bank that is now sanctioned, told me that he was being laid off. At the same time, companies are suspending hiring new employees or issuing bonuses in order to reconcile the accounts.

People from my professional environment who continue to work in good positions in Russia, who are not interested in the news, have not yet sensed ‘via the fridge’ [ie from a rising food prices and inability to get certain things] that this situation really threatens them. At the moment, nothing has changed for them. They have a job, the tools for work are still available, they have friends with cards in Western banks, if something needs to be paid.

Designers as a rule are gentle and warm-hearted people, not prone to violence. One immerses himself fully in their work so as not to read the news, another will drift into despondency and apathy. Particularly sensitive colleagues gather in the “Panic Chatroom” to discuss the news and support each other. Those product designers who stay in Russia have something to lose, so they are not in a hurry to be bludgeoned [by police]. In my work environment there is not a single person with whom I can go to protests. Many are silent so as not to put their families at risk, not to lose their jobs and to see this difficult time through.

At the same time, I see from the comments in my channel that many of my readers sincerely support the war and do not believe the commentators from Ukraine. I attribute this to the fact that they watch TV and are not interested in searching for information independently. Any post that even indirectly touches on the topic of war hits a bare nerve. I have not many more readers from Russia than from Ukraine. Two worlds are colliding, giving rise to stormy squabbles in hundreds of comments.”

Read in Russian here

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