The Minsk Tractor Works was established in 1946and, with state help, survived the collapse of theUSSR. “It is one of the largest manufacturers of thefew left in the post-Soviet territory, as far as itscapacity is concerned,” says Deputy DirectorGeneral Andrei Suslenkov. “So one could bestraightforward in saying that its contribution to the economy is huge.”
Critics say the state-run model is failing as Belarus struggles with inflation, and a shrinkingeconomy.
“In 2016, it has failed to deliver on reforms, so it believes that somehow it will overcomedifficulties,” says Jaroslav Romanchuk, a political economist at the Scientific Research MissCenter . “But as we see from numbers, from the way manufacturers work, the situation, the jobmarket, things are getting worse.”
“There are 18,000 people currently working at Minsk Tractor Works,” says Aminya Baitasova,curator of the factory's newly-opened museum. “Should the factory have been closed, can youimagine how many people would have remained unemployed? How could anyone deal with thisamount of people? The people would begin worrying. There might be some rallies, or war.”
Switching to high-tech
But Belarusians also is battling its way into the global market of high technology andinnovation with software like the World of Tanks franchise.
“A High-Tech Park provides extra possibilities for the development of IT companies here, on theterritory of the Belarus Republic, like tax advantages, as well as many advantages foremployees engaged in this field and a favorable climate for business development,” saysAnastasiya Zaytseva, PR Manager for Wargaming.Net's Game Stream.
The online gaming company got its start in Minsk, but has attracted fans around the world withmore than 110 million subscribers.
While employing 2,000 young staffs and programmers in Belarus, they look to the future, whileacknowledging the Soviet past that inspired their virtual tanks.
Daniel Schearf, VOANEWS, Minsk.