19 September 2020, Saturday, 22:32
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Libération: Soviet Union Will Fall Along With Lukashenka

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Libération: Soviet Union Will Fall Along With Lukashenka
PHOTO: MEHDI FEDOUACH / AFP

In Belarus, not a "color", but a "digital" revolution is underway.

"Despite the outdated decor that creates the impression of stability, mass rallies have been shaking the country since August 9. There are many workers in the influential information technology sector among the protesters, for whom the falsified re-election of Aliaksandr Lukashenka is unacceptable," writes special correspondent for the French edition of Liberation (translated by inopressa.ru) in Minsk Justine Salvestroni.

"When the Soviet Union collapsed, the already mustachioed and still hairy young Aliaksandr Lukashenka, the last man standing among the ruins, decided that the past was the best place to build the future of his country, Belarus," the article says.

"Lukashenka has kept his promises," says 77-year-old Viachaslau, a retired worker and a staunch supporter of the president, with enthusiasm. "He managed to preserve the best things of the USSR - big factories, the KGB, free hospitals, people are disciplined under him, they learned to work and walk straight, not like in the USSR!"

"(...) The Batska" has preserved the decor of the old days: the hammer and sickle are inlaid on the facades of buildings, Lenin streets intersect with Karl Marx avenues, the statues of the founder of the Cheka Felix Dzerzhinsky are in good condition, in the National Museum the paintings of Soutine and Chagall stand next to countless portraits of Komsomol members. The Leninist student organization still exists, but now under the name of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union, - the journalist describes. "Our teachers are forcing us to pay membership fees there," complains 23-year-old Palina. "They promise us that it will be easier for us to enter the university, but their interest is only so that they can say that they have many members. For our money they organize tasteless propaganda events."

"(...) Life under a hood, protected from the shocks of capitalism, from war and apocalypse, from hunger and fear, in order to forget the terrible stories about imprisoned mothers and childhood in an orphanage, about suspicions, about the battle for rehabilitation ..." Belarus is a happy country, - swears Nina from a collective farm. "We have peace, everything can be found in stores, and all this is thanks to Lukashenka!"

"Lukashenka, being allergic to reforms, nevertheless made a concession, thereby opening Pandora's box: in 2005, the High-Tech Park (HTP) was created in order to make Minsk a regional capital of high technologies. HTP is a state structure under Lukashenka's direct leadership, which provides tax cuts, scholarships, and greater freedom to startups. (...) Belarus, as an ungrateful daughter of the USSR, who has neither a sea, nor mountains, nor natural resources, was assigned the role of a family intellectual, along with the construction of a large mining and military technology, as well as electronics. To have good engineers, good universities were needed (where, due to lack of funds in the 80s and 90s, computer science was studied from the computer shown on the poster), from which programmers began to emerge today," writes Libération.

"Programmers quickly became a privileged caste, they supply foreign currency, have an unprecedented influence on legislation, they have high salaries, a good education and Western customs. Gradually, "IT people" got the right to create their own schools, their own charitable organizations, began to use the services of private medicine, thus forming a state within a state for about 50 thousand people. (...) "I wanted to teach programming. But in the end I became a programmer, because they pay ten times more for it, - explains 29-year-old Siarhei. - The fact that my job is worth the work of ten teachers gives an idea of what country Belarus is. What will I tell my daughter when she grows up? That she has a choice between emigration and teaching programming?" It was precisely because only these two options seemed possible that the engineers mobilized against Lukashenka, massively challenging the results of his falsified re-election on August 9 in the streets," the special correspondent notes.

"What is happening now is not a color revolution, as Lukashenka says, but a digital revolution," says Maksim Bahratsou, Vice President of EPAM Systems, the most famous Belarusian multinational company, established in 1993. He went on an indefinite leave. "People who work in the field of new technologies are creative, educated, they have traveled a lot. For them rigged elections are not acceptable. They applied their knowledge in the ballots: collect, analyze and share data ..."

But "IT people", even if there are many of them at the rallies, will not be able to single-handedly organize a revolution against Lukashenka and modernize the country. "They have not lost touch with reality," Maksim Bahratsou assures. "They know the rest of Belarusians very well through their relatives and friends." True, privileged youth, dreaming of freedom and democracy, can get bored and wait if the new regime is not established so soon, and succumb to the temptation of emigration," the publication says.

"Thousands of them have already left due to repression and Internet outages, - acknowledges the vice president of EPAM Systems. - This will aggravate the economic crisis, since a lot of small enterprises in the sphere of public catering, construction, culture depend on this sector ... But they will return, and we will restore everything!"

However, the first steps of privatization do not please everyone. "Previously, they knew how to respect the elders, and now we are treated like garbage," says Lyudmila angrily, forced into retirement from the privatized Elema sewing workshop."I would like to work there all my life."

The Soviet Union is living out its last days, although it still resists a little, but it will surely fall along with Lukashenka," sums up Justine Salvestroni.