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All content by Kyle E. Mitchell, who is not your lawyer.

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You And Whose GitHub?Russian tech source reports state mulling GitHub clone

Russian tech-news site c·news, in a report about a third package of supports for the Russian IT sector that includes military draft exemption, also reports:

Open Source Software Remains without Support

In a draft of the new supports [for Russia’s IT sector], Russian open source software was also mentioned. In particular, it was proposed that authorities allocate resources for the creation of a Russian repository, analogous to GitHub, which is controlled by the American Microsoft. In the order [implementing those supports], that point is missing.

Authorities have worked up this idea since January of 2020. In September 2021, prime minister of Russia Mikhail Mishustin again mentioned the need for the possession of such a resource in the country.

Apart from that, at the end of 2022, a danger appeared that because of USA technological sanctions, Russian software developed on the basis of Open Source could partially stop working. Foreign developers had already started to post on Twitter that they were blocking their open source code for Russian users. It’s possible that awoke MinTsifri [the Ministry of Digital Development, Connections, and Mass Communications] to include the creation of a new Russian repository for open source code in the new package of supports.

Original Russian

Открытое ПО осталось без поддержки

В черновой версии нового пакета мер поддержки также упоминалось и российское ПО с открытым исходным кодом. В частности, предполагалось, что власти выделят средства на создание российского репозитория, аналога GitHub, подконтрольного американской Microsoft. В указе этого пункта нет.

Эту идею власти вынашивают с января 2020 г. В сентябре 2021 г. премьер-министр России Михаил Мишустин вновь заявлял о необходимости наличия в стране такого ресурса.

К тому же, в конце февраля 2022 г. появилась опасность, что из-за технологических санкций США российское ПО, разработанное на базе Open Source, может частично перестать работать. Иностранные разработчики уже начали публиковать в Twitter сообщения о том, что заблокируют свои исходные коды для российских пользователей. Возможно, это тоже побудило Минцифры включить создание российского репозитория по с открытым кодом в новый пакет мер поддержки.

Compare GitHub’s recent announcement, which after a long running start reaffirming faith in self, open source, and self as open source, affirmed:

[…] In parallel with our efforts to make sure GitHub is available to developers in all countries, we are continuing to ensure free open source services are available to all, including developers in Russia.

If you’d sat me down five years ago and asked me to write a tweet about open source to ruin my own day, “open source, but no Russians allowed” would have been it. Two threads I’ve long sought to bring together in my life, threatened to be torn apart.

Needless to say, no rational person can expect especially Russian state actors to abide by license restrictions or other mere words to keep hands off. You will need to take repos private, you will need to get over the annoyance of 2FA, and you will need to grant permissions judiciously. Even so, it may only be a matter of time before a state-supported strike team cracks into a private repo specifically for code. We’ve seen it for data.

As for Russian developer friends, my heart is with you. As it is with our Ukrainian and brother sister IT-shniki, some of whom we will only be able to remember. I know many of you are abroad, or trying to get abroad. I know at least some of you will never start to think about leaving, as I’ll never stop thinking about going back. If I might help you, send an e-mail. Anytime. Even if you just need some English checked.

As for the rest of us: Refugees don’t just come in, bunk up, and sit for pitiful photos. They work. Industries must also take refugees. Tech must prepare for its share, now.

So much is being destroyed. But the little voice in the back of my head is still screaming, “Build! Build! Build!”

Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome by e-mail.

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