05.03.22

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From Belarus With Love — Part XII: Alexander Deev’s “Provocative” Comments

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:33 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. From Belarus With Love — Part VIII: “Seoul in the Centre of Pyongyang”
  9. From Belarus With Love — Part IX: The End of “Peaceful Coexistence”?
  10. From Belarus With Love — Part X: From “High-Tech Hub” to “No-Go Zone”
  11. From Belarus With Love — Part XI: SaM’s Management Remains Suspiciously Silent
  12. YOU ARE HERE ☞ Alexander Deev’s “Provocative” Comments

Alexander Deev
In October 2020, a senior member of the SaM Solutions management team, Alexander Deev, used his Facebook page to publish “provocative”, “boorish” and “unprofessional” statements signalling his support for the Lukashenko regime and its brutal crackdown against opposition protestors.

Summary: The EPO‘s outsourcing to Belarus should leave António Campinos a little shy of association in spite of the comment he made back in March; the Deputy Director for Business Development at SaM, whose stance was defended by upper management (or expression of rather obscene ideas), became the subject of unwanted attention in Belarus

In the last part we saw how SaM Solutions co-founder Andrej Bakhirev and the company’s managerial board failed to take a stance on the political situation in Belarus in 2020. Their silence makes it impossible to gauge the extent to which the company’s senior management might be aligned with the Lukashenko regime.

However, some clues about the attitude of the company’s management can be gleaned from local reports on an internal dispute that flared up at SaM in October 2020.

“…some clues about the attitude of the company’s management can be gleaned from local reports on an internal dispute that flared up at SaM in October 2020.”These reports – which were published by the independent Belarus IT news portal devby.io – relate to the publication of “provocative” and “boorish” pro-regime statements by a member of the SaM’s senior management team, Alexander Deev.

On 21 October 2020, devby.io informed its readers that Deev, who was at that time SaM’s “Deputy Director for Business Development” had posted comments on his private Facebook page together with an updated profile photo in a frame with elements of the official red-green state flag of Belarus.

Amongst other things, Deev expressed scepticism about reports concerning the torture of protestors held at the Okrestina Detention Centre, asking those who repeated such claims whether they had “photographic or video evidence”.

Okrestina Detention Centre fences
In his Facebook posts, Alexander Deev expressed scepticism about reports concerning the torture of protestors held at the Okrestina Detention Centre.

In a comment posted at 04:16 in the morning of 21 October 2020, Deev demanded to be given the names of the company’s employees who were unhappy about his position.

“By the way, I was informed here that our employees were concerned about my position. Give me their names.”

At the same time, Deev attempted to claim that the views he expressed were his own, not those of the company: “I stated my position, not that of the company.”

“In a comment posted at 04:16 in the morning of 21 October 2020, Deev demanded to be given the names of the company’s employees who were unhappy about his position.”To fully appreciate the provocative and inflammatory character of Deev’s postings, it’s important to take account of the ?polarising effects of political symbols in Belarus, in particular the national flag – or more accurately, the “two flags of Belarus”.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the newly independent Belarus decided to revert to its pre-Soviet national symbols in an effort to redefine the country’s identity.

As part of this “re-branding” exercise, the pre-communist white-red-white flag was chosen as the national emblem. However, following a controversial referendum in 1995 – promoted by the newly-elected President Lukashenko – the Soviet-era red and green flag was restored in amended form, this time without the hammer and sickle and red star of communism.

Lukashenko's Flag
From l. to r.: Soviet era flag; the pre-Soviet white-red-white flag adopted in 1991; the green-red flag restored by Lukashenko in 1995 after a controversial referendum.

In recent years, the pre-1995 flag has become associated with the anti-Lukashenko opposition movement and it was a prominent feature of the massive protest rallies which followed the rigged Presidential election in 2020. This flag is known locally under the acronym B-CH-B, representing the initials of its white-red-white colour scheme in Belarusian.

Belarus white and red white flag
The pre-1995 white-red-white flag became a symbol of opposition to the Lukashenko regime and was a prominent feature of the protest rallies which followed the rigged Presidential election in 2020.

When Alexander Deev updated his Facebook profile photo with a frame incorporating the colours of the official red-green state flag, he was making a political statement.

In essence he was signalling his support for the Lukashenko regime and expressing his approval of the merciless crackdown directed against opposition protestors.

Alexander Deev: Facebook profile
When Alexander Deev updated his Facebook profile photo with a frame incorporating the colours of the official state flag, he was making a political statement and signalling his support for the Lukashenko regime.

Given the precarious political situation in Belarus at the time in question, it’s small wonder that Deev’s posts sparked off a major internal row at SaM.

It’s worth mentioning here that during the post-election crackdown at least 9 employees of SaM ended up in detention and received fines and days of arrest, and one of them was beaten up. In addition to this, many SaM employees participated in volunteer initiatives to help victims of the crackdown.

Not surprisingly, a vigorous discussion took place on Deev’s Facebook page and before long more than 350 comments had accumulated there, the majority of them highly critical of Deev.

According to Deev, he was merely expressing a personal opinion, and he tried to claim that it was his position not that of the company.

“According to Deev, he was merely expressing a personal opinion, and he tried to claim that it was his position not that of the company.”However, his demand to be given the names of SaM employees who were dissatisfied with his position blurred the boundaries between his private affairs and those of the company.

More than anything else that Deev posted on his Facebook page, his demand for “names” raised hackles among the rank and file of the company’s employees.

In the next part we shall see how the managing director of SaM’s “delivery center” in Minsk, Marat Ebzeev, tried to defuse the situation after many of the company’s employees signed a petition protesting against Deev’s “provocative”, “boorish” and “unprofessional” statements.

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