Gemini version available ♊︎

From Belarus With Love — Part VIII: “Seoul in the Centre of Pyongyang”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. From Belarus With Love — Part I: Schizophrenic EPO Policy
  2. From Belarus With Love — Part II: “Techwashing” an Autocratic Regime?
  3. From Belarus With Love — Part III: Apps From the Dictatorship
  4. From Belarus With Love — Part IV: “Software from Minsk” via Gilching and Rijswijk
  5. From Belarus With Love — Part V: From Start-Up to Success Story…
  6. From Belarus With Love — Part VI: “Big Daddy” Hammers the Opposition…
  7. From Belarus With Love — Part VII: The Post-Election Crackdown
  8. YOU ARE HERE ☞ “Seoul in the Centre of Pyongyang”

HTP Minsk from top
The Belarus High Technologies Park in Minsk played a significant role in the events which led to the massive anti-Lukashenko protests in the autumn of 2020.

Summary: In this series which explores the relationship between the EPO and the Belarus High Technologies Park we now take a look at this so-called “Seoul in the centre of Pyongyang”

The Belarusian autocrat Lukashenko is a former collective farm boss who seems to have an uneasy relationship with the world of modern technology. Back in 2007 he told journalists at a press event to which foreign media were not admitted that the Internet was “full of sites hostile to Belarus” and a law was needed “to end such anarchy”.

But despite Lukashenko’s misgivings about modern technology, two years earlier in 2005 he had been persuaded to agree to the establishment of a “High Technologies Park” in Minsk.

“During that time Tsepkalo became aware of a significant number of Belarusian tech entrepreneurs active in Silicon Valley and this made him ask why they should have to leave their home country to be successful.”The HTP was the brain-child of Valery Tsepkalo, who served as Belarus ambassador to the USA from 1997-2002. During that time Tsepkalo became aware of a significant number of Belarusian tech entrepreneurs active in Silicon Valley and this made him ask why they should have to leave their home country to be successful.

In 2005, Tsepkalo convinced Lukashenko to agree to the creation of a special economic zone with its own extra-territorial tax regime for tech companies and their employees. The government donated a derelict building on the outskirts of Minsk and guaranteed a USD 300,000 loan to help get the project up and running.

“Software engineers at the HTP could earn about USD 1,600 a month, compared to average Belarus salaries of around USD 400.”Tsepkalo was in charge of the HTP for 12 years and under his leadership it began to gain a reputation as the “Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe”.

By March 2017, the HTP had 164 companies on its books, with more than 27,000 software engineers between them. Its activities accounted for around 4% of the country’s GDP and were generating annual revenues of around USD 950m for the state.

Software engineers at the HTP could earn about USD 1,600 a month, compared to average Belarus salaries of around USD 400. Employment in the IT sector became virtually the only way a young person could achieve social advancement with an interesting job and a decent salary. Consequently, many able and intelligent people ended up working in the technology sector and Belarusian software designers succeeded in making a global name for themselves as high-quality, innovative developers.

“The Belarusian writer Victor Martsinovich described the situation as “Seoul in the centre of Pyongyang”.”The relatively high level of income and connections to an international network meant that IT experts frequently had opportunities to travel abroad and to learn how business worked elsewhere, in particular in the developed countries of Europe and in the US. This had an impact on the cultural and political views of the employees themselves and, in many cases, it inspired an interest in improving the political situation in their home country.

Nevertheless, most of those involved in the IT sector tended to avoid direct political involvement and preferred to live as “internal emigrants” in a parallel world, barely coming into contact with the authorities and government structures. The Belarusian writer Victor Martsinovich described the situation as “Seoul in the centre of Pyongyang”.

In 2017 Tsepkalo was dismissed from his position as Director of the HTP and was replaced by Lukashenko’s former adviser on “ideological matters”, Vsevolod Yanchevski.

At the time there were fears that having such a Lukashenko loyalist at the helm would lead to increased political interference in the affairs of the HTP. However, these concerns turned out to be unfounded and under its new management, the HTP more or less continued to be left to its own devices.

At the end of December 2017, a new Decree “On the Development of the Digital Economy” was issued. This decree extended the HTP’s special extra-territorial regime until 2049 and also provided a formal legal basis for the free circulation of cryptocurrencies and the use of smart contracts.

In February 2020, Yanchevski played host to US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and told journalists that Pompeo’s visit to the HTP was good sign for the development of business and cooperation between Belarus and the USA.

Vsevolod Yanchevski and Pompeo
In February 2020, the Director of the Belarus HTP, Vsevolod Yanchevski, received a visit from US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

However, the relationship between the Belarus IT sector and the political establishment was about to change dramatically.

In the next part we shall see how the long era of “peaceful co-existence” came to an abrupt end when some of those associated with the HPT started to become directly involved in political activities during the contentious Presidential election campaign of 2020.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New

  1. EPO Exploits the Deaths of Millions to Leverage COVID-19 Monopolies and Then Pushes Illegal, Unconstitutional Agenda Again (UPC)

    The dictatorship of António Campinos continues to abuse the EPO‘s Web site to incite for or make calls towards illegal actions, just like Team Battistelli

  2. [Meme] EPO.org as a Portal of Lies (and Lobbyists)

    EPO.org used to be a Web site of Europe's largest patent office, but the site has been hijacked by patent litigation lobbyists -- a disturbing development

  3. Links 04/07/2022: StarFighter With GNU/Linux Preloaded, Ubuntu Touch on JingPad A1

    Links for the day

  4. Gemini is Becoming Increasingly Interconnected and Adopts More Modern Encryption Protocols

    Gemini is no longer a set of isolated "islands"; there is a growing sense of community with interactions across capsules (like in the days of blogs with trackbacks and pingbacks)

  5. [Meme] Windows Spotted in a Classroom in Turkey

    Windows market share in Turkey is down to 9.8% this month; it’ll become a rare sight if these trends carry on

  6. Microsoft Windows is Now Down to Single-Digit 'Market Share' in Turkey Owing to the Nation's Independence/Digital Autonomy Objectives

    Windows is at 9.8% of "the market" this month in Turkey, based on a Web survey (3 million sites); we might be seeing the gradual end of Windows as a financially viable product line

  7. Links 04/07/2022: China's Journey to GNU/Linux Continues, openSUSE.Asia Summit 2022 Planned

    Links for the day

  8. Links 04/07/2022: LibreOffice Impress Improvements and History of Rocky Linux

    Links for the day

  9. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, July 03, 2022

    IRC logs for Sunday, July 03, 2022

  10. Links 04/07/2022: EasyOS 4.2.3 and Murena One Phone With /e/OS 1.0

    Links for the day

  11. Links 03/07/2022: Porteus 5.0 and elementaryOS Report

    Links for the day

  12. Links 03/07/2022: China 'Rallies Support for Kylin Linux' and SparkyLinux 4 EOL

    Links for the day

  13. Global Dynamics of the Demise of Microsoft Windows (Now Down to 27%)

    The situation of Windows' "share" (however subjective any measure would be) is grim; despite a "new" release of Windows, as recently as several months ago, "market share" decreases fast

  14. Francisca Pacheco López on Richard Stallman

    A letter from Madrid, posted a few days ago

  15. The World Wide Web is Not Growing, Gemini Does

    The Web, which is over 30 years old, peaked quite a few years ago; it's increasingly just a conduit of traffic unrelated to actual pages (articles, blogs) and just a vehicle for "apps", which are in turn centralised or closely guarded by few companies and very few governments (public communication is not their goal, manipulation and social control are the principal objectives)

  16. Links 03/07/2022: GNU/Linux Steam Surge, GitHub Breaks the Law

    Links for the day

  17. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, July 02, 2022

    IRC logs for Saturday, July 02, 2022

  18. Flooz on a Blockchain

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission

  19. Links 02/07/2022: Debian 9 (Stretch) EOL, FocusWriter 1.8.1, and Darktable 4.0

    Links for the day

  20. After Freenode's Demise It's OFTC That's Gaining in IRC, Not Libera.Chat

    IRC 12 months after the dust 'settled'

  21. Finland Turns 18

    This summer in Finland there seem to be changes

  22. Copyleft is Still Better and More Suitable for Business

    Copyleft does not mean one cannot make money; it just means proprietary software companies such as Microsoft stand to lose their dying empires, only to be replaced by new businesses that market and support GPL-licensed systems

  23. With New Data Just in (a Couple of Hours Ago), It Seems Clear Microsoft Windows Continues to Lose Market Share in July

    As shown above, Windows continues its demise; there’s also rapid erosion of Windows "market share" in Russia this year (“Russians [are] switching to Linux”) and sooner or later Windows will be just a quarter of the market (maybe by year’s end). Windows is at 10% in Turkey (down by a huge amount this year) and in Russia it’s down by about 5% since the war. In India GNU/Linux (“proper”, not ChromeOS) is up to nearly 5% of desktops/laptops.

  24. Links 02/07/2022: PSPP 1.6.2 Released, Linux Mint Rejects Parts of Systemd, Lots of Politics

    Links for the day

  25. Walking Like the Talking, Acting Like One's Preaching

    It has now been about 2 years since lock-downs in the world's Western nations were first loosened or lifted; we've thankfully taken advantage of all that commotion (persistent flux; we've not solved the underlying issues) to expand beyond and Web and become self-hosted wherever possible

  26. IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 01, 2022

    IRC logs for Friday, July 01, 2022

  27. EPO Steering Off the Road, Just Like the Drunken Son of António Campinos, Who Crashed the Car and Begged for Impunity

    With the EPO rapidly turning into a corrupt dynasty of rogue politicians, lawyers and bankers (not scientists) we must turn to constitutions and treaties that they knowingly violate with impunity

  28. Koch Operatives Working to Shape Patent Law in Favour of Monopolies and Oligarchs

    Patent systems are being hijacked by monopolists and plutocrats for their financial gain and protectionism; it's a longstanding issue because it begets constitutional violations (glossed over by bought or installed "Justices", which is another creeping threat, especially in light of recent developments in the US Supreme Court and patently, manifestly illegal actions by Team UPC)

  29. At the EPO, “Online” Means Microsoft Windows Only (“Unitary Patent” Also Limited to Microsoft Customers!)

    The EPO's "special" (corrupt) relationship with Microsoft is a major liability for Europe; does one need to adopt back doors and US surveillance to interact with the EPO?

  30. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XXII — 'Mr. GitHub Copilot' Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley Pleads Guilty After Assaulting Women

    Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley from Microsoft GitHub (the man behind the GPL violation machine called “Copilot”) has “pled guilty to get deferred sentence”

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts