Estonian CM Games rejected the candidate from Ukraine who wrote “RussiaIsATerroristState” in his CV

Estonia is a country that has stood with Ukraine throughout the unprovoked war started by Russia. Many companies, entrepreneurs, and ordinary people provide all the possible help to the Ukrainians, who try to protect their future from Putin’s bloody regime. Estonian government supports Ukraine as it can as well.

But occasional exceptions may apply, and this particular case is the example.

What happened

A few days ago, Ukrainian game designer Alexander Tkachenko applied for the position of Unity Developer posted on behalf of CM Games, the independent Estonian gamedev company, based in Tallinn. Alexander contacted the recruiter from the posting and sent her his CV. After looking through it, the recruiter replied that the company can’t accept Alexander’s candidacy because of “RussiaIsATerroristState” phrase written in the part of his CV, where the languages he speaks are listed.

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Screenshots in this article were provided by Alexander Tkachenko with his permission for publishing

As the CM Games’ recruiter stated in their conversation via Telegram, the reason for the rejection was that such a mention “contradicts the values” of the company, which has employees from Russia. She also noted that in CM Games it is not customary “to discuss politics.”

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AIN.Capital’s editor checked the recruiter profile and, according to LinkedIn, she really works at CM Games. Moreover, in her LinkedIn account, she gave the same Telegram account for contacts, with which Alexander had this conversation, but after we approached the company for comments, she removed this contact from her profile.

We do not disclose the personal data of the recruiter, but according to her LinkedIn, she herself is originally from Russia, but today works at CM Games remotely from Serbia.

What is known about CM Games

The company was founded in 2010 by three colleagues Vladimir Funtikov, Sergei Panfilov (both ethnically Russians), and Serhiy Slyeptsov (Ukrainian, who, according to his Facebook, left the company in April 2022 shortly after the full-scale war started).

Originally the company was named Creative Mobile but rebranded to CM Games recently. It is well known Estonian game developer. In 2012, Creative Mobile was named “Startup of the Year” in Estonia and a PocketGamer Top 50 Developer in 2013, 2014, and 2015. According to the company, up-to-date CM Games products have 400 million players worldwide. The studio is best known for its popular mobile games Drag Racing, Nitro Nation, and others.

In the comment to AIN.Capital, CM Games explained this case as a failure to “synchronize understanding of our guidelines and principles after going remote”. The company insists that it condemns the Russian invasion and supports Ukraine. We publish the full comment below.

“CM is firmly anti-war and condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The company was founded in Estonia in 2010 by ethnically Russian Estonian citizens and a Ukrainian national holding an Estonian non-citizen passport. All founders have resided in Estonia since its restoration of independence and hold pro-Western views. The CEO of CM is an Estonian national by birth. As things stand, CM is an Estonian legal entity with a single physical location in Tallinn. It does employ ethnic Russians, Ukrainians and Estonians on all levels, including senior leadership.

The invasion of Ukraine was met with universal shock and disgust and prompted immediate relocation efforts across the company, prioritizing staff in the area of conflict. Ukrainian employees who remained in Ukraine were kept on the payroll indefinitely when they could not perform their duties. Informally, there are pro-UA fundraisers run by employees. The CEO of CM expressed his stance by publicly attending an anti-war protest in Tallinn immediately after the invasion and making personal pro-UA donations throughout 2022.

CM has no formal or informal policy that prohibits condemnation of the war. Moreover, it is understood that Ukraine is a nation under attack, and Ukrainian nationals are not only entitled but legally and morally obligated to a condemnation of the actions of the Russian state. None of our recruitment guidelines or underlying core values indicate that this is grounds for rejection. That said, we must do better to ensure lapses of judgement don’t become divisive issues that fuel animosity.

Admittedly, we have also found it challenging to maintain a fully synchronized understanding of our guidelines and principles after going remote in 2020, which could have contributed to this incident. We’ve been improving this continuously, but there’s clearly more work to do,”

CM Games comments.

AIN.Capital also reached out to Andrew Suprunov, Head of Product in CM Games, who is originally from Ukraine, or rather from Yalta (the city in Crimea, Ukraine’s territory, illegally annexed by Russia in 2014). He stated that the company always treated its Ukrainian employees well, helped with relocation, provided extra days off, and supported them financially.

Why is it important

Despite the company’s position described in the comment, we couldn’t find any public statements that CM Games supports Ukraine, condemning Russia out loud. The war in Ukraine was never mentioned in its social media accounts, even though the company employs Ukrainians who had to flee their homes as a result of Russia’s attack. We also found that CM Games is still actively hiring in Russia, so it is understandable why most of the actions in support of Ukraine are informal.

The case may be considered as an illustration of what the war in Ukraine means for ordinary Russians, who now work for Estonian companies — just “politics” that should not be discussed in the workplace. Moreover, as seen in this particular case, some Russians do not agree with the statement that Russia is a terrorist state, considering this “discrimination” against themselves, while tens of Ukrainian civilians die every day under its constant shelling. Some of those Russians are even comfortable using their corporate position not to tolerate people, who openly condemn Russia.

Ultimately, who is discriminating against whom?