Andrei Ivanou, a Belarusian native, and I sit down to learn more about the fascinating, oft-forgotten country of Belarus. Belarus has the dubious honor of being the longest-running European dictatorship thanks to their leader, Alexander Lukashenko, who seized power in 1994 following the power vacuum that was created by the fall of the USSR. A military man, Lukashenko is often referred to as бацька (“dad”) by Belarusians because he oversees everything and dominates the country.
If you’re like me before this episode, you don’t much about Belarus – or even where it’s located. (Hint: It’s sandwiched predominantly between Russia, Poland, and Ukraine on the eastern edge of Europe.) Nor have you given it much thought in terms of what life is like there. Yet for Europeans, it’s often viewed as a bridge between East and West. And for Russia, it’s long been one of its closest allies because it serves as a critical land buffer between Moscow and the EU across the North European Plain.
Andrei and I discuss what’s changed since the fall of the USSR, what it’s like to live in a dictatorship (especially after having lived in the U.S.), what’s being smuggled into and out of the country, how much locals actually make and which surprising job is the best-paid, the sort of economic propaganda put forward by the press, why Belarusian women are known worldwide for their beauty, how to travel there (spoiler alert: It’s not that easy), and more.
Andrei is the CSPO at TechVice, one of the companies which my software company, CallerSmart, works with. If you’d like to learn more about Belarus and get a “boots on the ground” taste of what life is actually like under “daddy” in Europe’s last dictatorship, then this episode is for you.
“I think this is not the problem of Belarus, this is the problem of attitude towards our country, but what I really think is the real Belarusian treasure is our brains, our minds.”
Other Relevant Links:
- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
- “It’s not the people who vote that count. It’s the people who count the votes.”
- Digital Nomads: The best city you’ve never been to | Sovereign Man
- Chernobyl: The Wildlife Haven Created When People Left
- In Secretive Belarus, Chernobyl’s Impact Is Breathtakingly Grim
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