Analogs Are Inappropriate: Why Officials Do Not Want To Buy Russian Computers


The government issued a decree tightening the rules for state purchases of imported equipment. The state has not offered a coherent logic of import substitution in IT, and customers have long learned to bypass restrictions on its purchase, says Ivan Begin, director of ANO “Information Culture.”

The government issued Decree No. 1432, which tightened the rules for state purchases of imported laptops, smartphones, integrated circuits, and other types of computer equipment in the case of their Russian counterparts and the absence of technical requirements for purchasing these particular goods.

Many perceived this decision as a ban on government bodies and government agencies from purchasing computer equipment of foreign origin, but this is not entirely true. Will likely bypass the new restrictive measures in the same way as all the previous ones. How does this happen?

Loopholes For The Customer

First, it all starts with the concept of “analog.” What analog can Apple computers have? For example, one allows you to run the MacOSX operating system and run programs developed for it. This means that there are no such analogs. Russian budgetary institutions massively purchase Apple products – here are examples of purchases. Very expensive equipment is also being purchased.

At the same time, government customers have already become proficient in justifying the purchase of exactly the equipment they need. For example, here is a typical justification of why it is necessary to buy Apple laptops and monoblocks – just their Russian counterpart “in terms of its functional, technical and operational characteristics does not meet the requirements set by the customer for the planned purchase of electronic products.” Customers write such justifications by the requirements of a government decree adopted in 2019, which was supposed to stimulate the purchase of domestic electronics.

Second, it is always important to keep in mind the loophole of procurement through extrabudgetary funding. Numerous FSUEs, state-established joint-stock companies, and PJSCs are subject to 223-FZ – the law on procurement of state-owned companies with its softer requirements than in the main law on state purchases. They are also being tightened but with a great delay, so organizations with extra-budgetary funding usually conduct all sensitive purchases according to 223-FZ. This is done, for example, by universities or numerous subordinate organizations under the government.

Finally, there are numerous state-owned NGOs through which you can buy products with virtually no restrictions, employees of budgetary institutions can be employed therein parallel, and officials can sit on the board and supervisory boards, receiving expensive foreign equipment for their work in these structures.

Third, you can pay attention to what happened to the import substitution in the procurement of sophisticated medical equipment – mammography, x-ray machines, ventilation systems, lungs, etc. In the same. The resolution, of which we speak, the government softened the restrictions, actually admitting that the attempt to tighten the nuts failed. It is quite possible that the new bans on the purchase of smartphones and laptops will not pass the test of real life, and in a year or two, the government will have to make concessions.

Simple Explanation

Import substitution in Russia has turned into a rather strange process of imposing economic patriotism by order. Nobody clearly explains to state customers why new bans are needed and from what threats they must protect. But the difference in quality, the availability of components, the possibility of a warranty exchange between foreign smartphones and other devices and their Russian counterparts, buyers feel very well.

Therefore, every time I see such initiatives, I have only two assumptions. First: probably again, some domestic state holding wants to become a monopoly on the market.

Second: maybe we don’t know something, and the world is approaching a nuclear war or another global catastrophe? It is government, in its wisdom, that prepares us to disrupt global supply chains. But then why aren’t the bomb shelters being repaired, and where are the massive power outage exercises?

More often than not, the first assumption turns out to be true.

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