Today we have a special narrative edition of the show for you. We take you out of your coronavirus confines to Minsk, the capital of Belarus in far eastern Europe.
It’s where I recently traveled to talk about Daily Detroit and podcasting at the Press Club Belarus, an organization promoting an independent, free press in the former Soviet republic.
Belarus has also been in the international news lately as the only country in Europe that is continuing to play professional soccer and letting fans crowd into stadiums. That’s because of its authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, who has dismissed the coronavirus as being more dangerous to the small country’s economy than to the health of its people.
Our show today touches on Belarusian history and politics — I was there during Parliamentary election day — and we discuss the country’s burgeoning IT sector and local culture. We hear from:
- Pavel Sverdlov, editor-in-chief of EuroRadio.fm
- Serge Sakharan, editor of City Dog
- Alexei Shuntov, his translator
- Anatoli Babenia, a member of a hacker space in Minsk
- And Yauheni Preiherman, founder and director of the Minsk Dialog Council on International Relations
Minsk is a beautiful city, but over the course of a week there it became clear that Belarus is also a very complicated, conflicted place. Both geographically and figuratively, it’s stuck between the liberal democracy and economic freedoms of western Europe on one side and the authoritarian spectre of Russia, its neighbor to the east. It’s been independent since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but it remains caught in a kind of paralysis, heavily dependent on Russia for its livelihood.
We worked really hard on today’s show and hope you enjoy it.