Belarus Dictator Reintroduces Serfdom after 153 Years

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Europe’s only dictator has decided it’s time to bring serfdom back to his isolated country.

President Alexandr Lukashenko of Belarus, a former Soviet republic, decreed recently that those toiling on collective farms, a leftover from communism, cannot under any circumstance quit their jobs.


Critics said the longtime dictator wanted to turn the workers into serfs, which was in existence during the days of imperial Russia. And Lukashenko agreed.


“Let’s be frank,” the man who has ruled Belarus for 20 years was quoted as saying. “Serfdom” was exactly what he wanted, adding: “You can’t quit and you can’t get a different job.” Belarus is a signatory of the 1957 Abolition of Forced Labor. But this probably doesn’t mean much to Lukashenko, a former Communist Party member who ran collective farms in the Soviet Union.


“We need to train farmers to be very efficient, responsible and organized,” Lukashenko said in his order. “If we get the agriculture industry working like this in one year, it will guarantee that we will continue working this way in the future,” he said.


Well, maybe not. He tried a similar serfdom order two years ago, when he commanded that the 13,000 employees of Belarus’ state-owned wood-processing plants couldn’t quit their jobs, either.


“There’s little indication from Belarus that this measure actually worked,” The Washington Post’s Adam Taylor wrote.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Dictator of the Month: Who Is Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus? (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Why Belarus Wants to Bring ‘Serfdom’ Back (by Adam Taylor, Washington Post)

Belarus Bans Standing in One Place with Others (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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