Monday, January 19, 2015

As young minds leave, industrialized eastern Ukraine faces brain drain | Al Jazeera America

As young minds leave, industrialized eastern Ukraine faces brain drain | Al Jazeera America

DONETSK, Ukraine — When the fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces moved closer to Donetsk’s city limits in June, one of the region’s leading software development companies made the difficult decision to relocate its 50 staffers to a safer city to wait out the war.

The company, Binary Studio, chose the western city of Uzhgorod, about 900 miles west of Donetsk in the Carpathian Mountains. At an average age of 28, the company’s employees were young and mobile and saw the temporary move as an opportunity to continue working while exploring Ukraine’s mountains on the weekends.

“We all wanted to go back to Donetsk as soon as the situation improved there,” said Kateryna Potanina, 24, Binary’s chief operating officer, in a phone interview. “But it was nice to feel safe and be far from what was happening in the east.”

It’s now been five months since they set up shop in the west, and the move no longer feels temporary. The eastern conflict has claimed more than 4,300 lives, including at least 1,000 since a Sept. 5 cease-fire. The armed rebels of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic held their own elections on Nov. 2, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has retaliated by cutting off state budget and banking services to the rebel-held territories.

Binary Studio’s workers are part of what is estimated to be more than 1 million people who have fled the eastern regions since April, according to the United Nations, when pro-Russian rebels took over government buildings and declared independence from the Ukrainian central government in Kiev across the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Complete story at - As young minds leave, industrialized eastern Ukraine faces brain drain | Al Jazeera America


A building in Ilovaisk on Nov.16. The town on the outskirts of Donetsk was severely damaged in fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatist fighters. Dmitry Beliakov for Al Jazeera America

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