WHEN Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, urged citizens to “to get undressed and get to work till we sweat” during a rant about the importance of technology to the economy, his intention was to issue a rallying call for his people to seek a better life.
Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, and other Belarusian officials have repeatedly been accused of human rights violations, with the country labelled ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’ by some sections of the Western media.
The authoritarian leader was presumably surprised, then, when Belarusians decided to follow his instructions to the letter, and started posting images of themselves in the altogether at work on social media, using the hashtag #раздеватьсяиработать (#getnakedatwork).
Disrobed employees used binders, laptops, projector screens and other items to protect their dignity, alongside comments such as “anything to prop up the country’s economy,” and “The president said this was necessary.”
The hashtag promptly went viral, with residents of other Baltic nations joining in, as the bemused president declared that he had not been expecting people to take his words literally, arguing that he had intended to encourage them “to develop [themselves]” (развиваться), but had inadvertently used the similar-sounding verb “to strip” (раздеваться).