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April 29 – May 5, 2024
Belarus-Russia relations

New meets old: Propagandists outpace youth in building Baikal-Amur Mainline

The situation has not changed

Belarusian students are to take part in “BAM 2.0”, a new labour project of the All-Russian Youth Public Organisation “Russian Student Brigades” (RSB). At the beginning of the summer vacation period, the first group of young people from Minsk will arrive in the Russian Far East to contribute to the modernisation and expansion of one of Russia’s most important transport projects, in line with the official policy of Moscow and Minsk to re-educate young people in the spirit of “good old” Soviet times.

New meets old: Propagandists outpace youth in building Baikal-Amur Mainline

The project is primarily a propaganda exercise, with only 50 Belarusian students participating in the construction of the Baikal-Amur Mainline facilities. Despite the anticipated more numerous Russian participation, the current low-skilled manpower is insufficient to make a significant impact on the operation of the 4,324 km-long highway. Even if each student is allotted a kilometre.

As reported by the official media, at the World Youth Festival, during a panel discussion on the topic of “Student brigades jointly build the Union State”, the official youth unions, BRSM and RSB, extended their cooperation agreement for five years. This will enable them to continue to strengthen the development of student squad activities in the Union State.

Representatives of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) recalled that during the past 15 years of cooperation with the Russian Student Brigades many useful actions have been carried out. Work on the Olympic venues in Sochi marked the start of the roadmap of joint activities. Subsequently, the “all-Belarusian” youth participation in the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant and the socio-cultural sites of the “City of Youth” in Astravets became the focus of student brigade members’ attention. The report also references joint projects, including the interregional student construction project “Vostochny Cosmodrome” located in the Russian Far East in the Amur region near the town of Tsiolkovsky and the international student construction project “Kuzbass 300”.

The student brigades of the Union State are currently focused on modernising and expanding the Baikal-Amur Mainline, the construction of which commenced over 50 years ago. The proposal to participate in the international labour project “BAM 2.0” originated from the Omsk regional branch of RSB. The competitive selection process for brigades to work on the BAM has already been completed. The number of competitors was said to be high. However, no figures were given.

In the 1970s and 1980s, as part of the shock Komsomol youth brigades, the youth worked on large construction projects, receiving board and treatment vouchers from the Central Committee of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League. The Baikal-Amur Mainline was constructed this way, along with several industrial townships, such as Zolotinka (population: 585) and Kichera (population: 850). These townships have since become stagnant and are now heavily subsidised. The new project is part of the broader strategy to address the issue of the “lost generation.”

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