October 21, 1998 
Y2K in Russia: A View From the Trenches

U.S. companies have been preparing for the Millennium Bug for roughly the last four years. As the critical date approaches, all levels of society are mobilizing --
from the federal government to corporations to individual citizens. The U.S. is more prepared for the Y2K crisis than almost any other nation. Despite the panicky press coverage, it’s likely that most critical systems in the U.S. will be safeguarded by the dawn of the new millennium.

Russia, on the other hand, is one country where a gloomy Y2K outlook appears entirely justified.

Nick Poluektov is a manager at Avgur


a Moscow-based computerfirm whose focus is the assessment of technological accidents. In a recent interview, he summed up Russia’s predicament: "At the end of July, Alexander
Krupnov (chief of the State Communication Committee of the Russian Federation) finally confessed that Y2K isa real problem for our country. He estimated that the cost of fixing the Millennium Bug in Russia would be $500 million. But he went on to say that not a single government ruble will be spent on Y2K, because the budget is empty."

In spite of a shattered economy and no government support, businesses in the former Soviet Union are trying desperately to minimize the damage. Russian software manufacturers are scrambling to determine which of their products are Y2K-compliant.

And Russian companies are using this information to begin the arduous task of analysis.

Computer systems, however, are a much bigger and more troubling issue. Russia’s network of military computers is vulnerable to the Millennium Bug. And according to experts, the Bug could cause anything from a malfunction of the Early Warning system to an inadvertent nuclear launch.

Mr. Poluektov has no illusions about the amount of work that will need to be done. "We at Avgur have been working on the Y2K problem for more than a year now, using the experience we gained while correcting our own computer systems to help other companies cope with the Bug. And as manager of this project, I can say that we have never seen a machine that was absolutely free of Millennium Bugs."

The hard truth is that with the new millennium just 15 months away, even the most valiant compliance efforts will likely fall short. And in order to fight the Y2K Bug, Russia must also battle the apathy of its citizens. According to Mr. Poluektov, Y2K awareness in Russia is low. Many who do know about it believe it’s just an American issue.

And Russia’s Atomic Energy Ministry is projecting an air of unconcern. "We don't have any problems yet,'' spokesman Vladislav Petrov told The Associated Press recently. "We'll deal with the problem in the year 2000.''

Prepare for the next millennium with these great seminars:

Managing Year 2000 Projects
Testing for Year 2000 Compliance

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Bearbeitet am: 24.10.1998/ad

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