Posted: 01.11.2023 16:24:00

Chop wood and speak plainly

A spirit of media cohesion, healthy competition and an emphasis on precision: the second wood chopping challenge among journalists was held in Belarus

Last year, a video appeared on the Internet in which the President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, was chopping wood to prevent Europeans from freezing. The video became popular, and journalists suggested that the Head of State organise a challenge to test which of the media representatives was quick and dexterous with an ax and a saw. The President approved the idea, and on November 7th, 2022, the first wood chopping challenge among media workers was held. The event turned out to be bright and memorable. And last weekend, journalists, cameramen, photographers, editors, media executives, bloggers, and representatives of press services met again at the same picturesque place — on the shore of the Vyacha Water Reservoir not far from Minsk. 35 teams from all regions of Belarus expressed a desire to take part in the second challenge — this is almost twice as many as in 2022. In total — 240 participants and more than 100 judges. The scope is nationwide!

Employee of the Belarus Segodnya Publishing House Konstantin Shmidov during the competition

‘This is really cool!’

 During the opening of the event, Press Secretary of the President of Belarus Natalya Eismont conveyed greetings from the Head of State Aleksandr Lukashenko to the challenge participants, “I think we shouldn’t get tired of being grateful for the fact that everything around us is becoming more and more difficult, more and more difficult, but we get together again and spend half a day hacking away, competing, having fun, and so on. This is really cool!”
She also expressed gratitude to the governor of the Minsk Region, Aleksandr Turchin, the regional executive committee, and the forestry department for the ‘amazing organisation’ of the event.
After the team began to carry out tasks: men’s and women’s splitting, cutting logs, presidential splitting, relay race. It was more difficult for the participants this year. The conditions required accuracy. Chopping with a backhand is not an option. Every blow had to be carefully thought out.

In the overall team competition, the Vayar Agency won

Get out of your comfort zone

The Arshanskaya Gazeta team prepared for the competition more than thoroughly and responsibly. The editor-in-chief of the publication, Anastasia Turok, shows a wound on her finger as proof. But experience!
“Today the entire Vitebsk Region is behind us — we can’t let them down! Our team is its only representative. This is our first time taking part. Frameworks are not for us. We are used to living a creative, fun, interesting life. And this is a new challenge for us,” says Anastasia Turok.
For the benefit of everyone
The firewood chopping challenge among journalists is not only a competition for the sake of competition, but also a specific benefit. After all, firewood is an extremely necessary thing in the household.
Information Minister Vladimir Pertsov shares his opinion, “This sport, which thanks to the President is already becoming national, is useful both for physical culture and for life. Last year we exported chopped firewood to the border with the Baltic states. You know that they have problems with energy resources. They say they were dismantled quite willingly. We are not greedy people, we don’t feel sorry. We are always ready to help.”

The Belteleradiocompany team won the Relay Race category

‘We learned from a video, where your President was chopping wood’

The team of the Chinese news agency Xinhua gave the challenge international status this year. By the end of the competition, foreign journalists admit that they are very tired, but incredibly happy, “This is a very interesting event. We work in Belarus and want to experience it. Therefore, we decided to enter our team. We are glad to have a new experience. Today we are doing this for the first time. We learned in theory: from a video from last year, where your President was chopping wood at the challenge.”

Made beautifully

Another newcomer this year is the team from the National Beauty School. School principal Bozena Jeremic also took part in the relay. Then she said that they were here today, because last year the employees attended the challenge and were completely delighted, “This year, talking with fellow journalists, we decided that we also wanted to take part. We were encouraged to try to apply. It was important to feel the spirit and atmosphere. In my opinion, our team performed very well. And next year we will try to perform even better.”

Chop perfectly

In the individual competition among women, our special correspondent Anastasia Tselyuk took an honourable third place
The Stolichnoye Televideniye team this year has an experienced lineup. Journalist Evgeny Pustovoy already knows what it’s like. Last year, he says, his participation also went well. However, today everything was more complicated, “We journalists, if necessary, are able to chop it. But now a question is about filigree work. Even the logs had to be made 10 centimetres each, but I had 11.”
Columnist Grigory Azarenok also pricked. Presidential style. He says it’s a very difficult task, “But very invigorating. And it’s true, while firewood is something that we should be able to chop perfectly.”

The key to victory

Based on the results of all competitions, the team of the Military Information Agency of the Armed Forces Vayar became the winner. The participants were presented with an ax on behalf of the President with the symbolic inscription ‘Don’t chop from the shoulder’ as well as other gifts from the organisers.  
The team of the Belarus Segodnya Publishing House became 13th in the overall team competition. But in the individual among women, our special correspondent Anastasia Tselyuk took an honourable third place! Anastasia says that her experience of participating in the first challenge played an important role in this, where the Head of State personally gave her advice on how exactly to chop.  

By Svetlana Isaenok

Photos by Aleksandr Kushner