Laptops and keyboards without Russian-language layouts are increasingly coming to Russia under a government program that keeps imports going despite Western sanctions and the exodus of international companies because of the war in Ukraine, a business daily Kommersant reported on Monday.
Russia’s “parallel import” system allows the supply of keyboards and laptops originally intended for foreign markets without the approval of trademark owners.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce said that a Russian layout can be engraved on keyboards in the country without affecting the overall price of the product.
Demand has doubled for laser engraving services to change keyboard layouts to Cyrillic script, with keyboards and laptops coming mainly from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates this year, experts told Kommersant.
But the practice is to unbox devices, which customers would then be less likely to buy, and sometimes to remove the keyboard altogether, which could void warranties, according to Kommersant.
Russia imported 2 million keyboards worth 4 billion rubles ($69 million) and 1.4 million laptops worth 90 billion rubles ($1.5 billion) in January-June 2022, according to retailer M.Video-Eldorado.
Experts predict that keyboards without Russian language layout will reach 10% by the end of 2022.
Government tenders have also been affected by Russia’s parallel import mechanism for keyboards.
“There are problems in providing automated workstations [with Russian keyboard layouts] to ministries under contracts already signed,” an unnamed government source said.
“The terms of the tenders prohibit contractors from delivering workstations without a keyboard or with an English keyboard layout,” they added.