After Asylum, the Job Hunt? Here's Where Edward Snowden Should Look for Work in Russia
The job market in Moscow and beyond doesn't look too bleak for the veteran IT professional.
Edward Snowden. Photo courtesy of WikimediaThe infamous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden applied for temporary asylum in the Russian Federation on July 15. After his application is reviewed -- no later than five days from the date of filing, according to protocol -- it's expected that he'll be granted asylum.
Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian human rights lawyer, said that Snowden agreed to "stop his work aimed at harming [Russia's] US partners,” thus meeting the condition for staying as outlined by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
What's next for Snowden? Well, his lengthy stay in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow for several weeks, with its relatively high living costs (the cheapest room nets $235 per day and $9 per hour afterwards), has likely drained his finances. Even if Snowden brought a considerable amount of cash with him when he fled the US, once the reserve is depleted, he'll presumably need to find a job.
Luckily for Snowden, the Russian Federal Migration Service allows refugees to work in Russia, with no special permissions required. Here are some companies that Snowden, an experienced IT professional, should consider approaching.
Kaspersky Lab, headquartered in Moscow, is the world’s largest privately held vendor of endpoint protection solutions; it is often featured on lists of the world’s top four antivirus vendors. Snowden’s skills are likely to be appreciated there. Kaspersky Lab currently lists a number of open vacancies in its IT department, from systems analyst positions to network administrator jobs.
Eugene Kaspersky. Photo courtesy: Kaspersky Lab
Kaspersky Lab is world famous for its cyberthreat research. Eugene Kaspersky, the founder, who was recently featured on Foreign Policy’s top 100 global thinkers of 2012 list, humbly calls himself "a man who’s 'here to save the world.' "
Kaspersky, who graduated from a KGB-backed technical school in Moscow and served in the military afterwards, has often been accused of having extensive connections in the Secret Service. Mr. Kaspersky, not surprisingly, refutes the allegations.
Or maybe Snowden should consider Gazprom (MCX:GAZP), the energy giant and the biggest enterprise in Russia. It’s also No. 17 on Forbes' list of the World’s Biggest Public Companies.
The company needs an information security specialist to fill a position in its data security department.
The compensation range is not specified, but in general, jobs at huge Russian companies like Gazprom are in at least a medium-market salary range, encompass a solid benefit package, and offer enormous career growth opportunities as one of the perks. The other fact to keep in mind is that Gazprom is a consistent IT spender: The company recently announced a $3.7 million tender for a tablet computer tailored specifically to meet the needs of Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller.
On the flipside, giant enterprises generally perform a thorough background check on applicants for data security positions – and that’s where things might get tricky for Snowden. The other challenge would likely arise around the required relevant college degree, which Snowden doesn’t have. Perhaps his experience and clout could help here?
Why would we recommend that Snowden try a bank that's not even among the Top 50 biggest banks in Russia? Well, banks, regardless of size, generally offer IT pros a reasonable pay rate and are always in need of skilled technical specialists. However, landing a job at even a small bank might become an immensely competitive task for someone without proper language skills and Russian citizenship.
Here’s where networking comes into play: Anna Chapman, dubbed “the spiciest spy girl,” has served on the board of FundServiceBank since May 2013. She joined the bank as an adviser to the CEO on investments and innovation in October 2010, shortly after being deported from the US for espionage.
Anna Chapman. Image courtesy of annachapman.ru
Chapman, a 31-year-old divorcee, recently proposed to Snowden via Twitter – so she’d probably be happy to help the object of her affection -- her muse? -- secure a job at the bank.
Russia Today, Better Known as RT
Working closely with journalists for a while, it’s likely that Snowden might want to try his own hand at journalism – and here’s the company that should be first on his list of media enterprises to speak to.
Russia Today, or RT, is the Russian broadcasting service aimed at foreign audiences. With its first channel launched in December 2005, RT now broadcasts in English, Spanish, and Arabic with a global reach of over 630 million people.
Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks and a Snowden supporter, has a long-standing history of cooperation with RT. He had his own TV program, The Julian Assange Show, on the network in 2012 and was featured in an exclusive interview in 2010.
Julian Assange. Screenshot from an RT video
So if Snowden would like to join the team at RT to spread the word about the problems in the US (without harming Putin's US partners, of course), he should ask Mr. Assange for a recommendation letter.
What if Snowden has established an emotional attachment to the place where he spent many long weeks after landing in Russia? Good news: International Airport Sheremetyevo badly needs talented people like him!
At roughly $16,000 per year “and up,” the salary for a system administrator at Sheremetyevo is not very competitive, but it does come with an “industry-leading benefit package” that includes health coverage, free kindergarten for employees' children, a mortgage support program, and a free shuttle service to the neighboring town of Lobnya. Here's a photo of the town's entrance:
"Lobnya" sign at the town's border. Image courtesy of lobnya.cc
Moreover, working that close to planes, Snowden could quite easily hop on a flight to South America if he ever felt fed up with Russia.
Russia has a number of technology companies, so if Snowden is interested, there’d be plenty of options available to him. For example, he could join Yandex (NASDAQ:YNDX), dubbed “the Russian Google” (NASDAQ:GOOG), as the company controls 60% of the search market in Russia.
The other option might be working for Vkontakte (VK), a.k.a. “the Russian Facebook (NASDAQ:FB),” with over 40 million daily visitors and 200 million registered accounts in Russia and Europe.
There are plenty of smaller startups, too, and they're always starved for senior IT specialists.
Then again, if Snowden would like to continue working in the governmental agency environment, perhaps the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), a KGB successor, would be a door to knock on.
Will Snowden ring the FSB's bell? Image courtesy of Wikimedia
There is a catch with this one: The requirements for FSB positions prohibit the employment of people with foreign citizenship and sometimes even of people with relatives abroad. Of course, direct collaboration with a foreign special service group would likely add to the long list of charges against Snowden in the US – so the decision to go this route should be taken with extreme caution.