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"Even my loved ones don't know what I do". Interview with a member of the CyberPartisans

Meet Feofan — participating in cyberattacks, mining intelligence for us, brute-forcing, and other important tasks. In this interview with the cyber partisan, we talked about stress management, partisan security in Belarus, and working for intelligence agencies.



Hacktivism. Cyber partisans. Storks


What do you do for us?


From what can be published, it's intelligence gathering, brute force, and hardware-related developments. I was also involved in the attack on the Belarusian Railways. I also helped to develop instructions on safe donations from Belarus. The rest of the cases are still non-public, but they are usually related to some systems that the other guys don't have experience with.


What do you mean by "hardware-related developments"?


Helping to develop specialized devices that by Moment X can be reproduced by partisan ground units for use in their operations.


Do you enjoy being a hacktivist? What does this concept mean to you in general?


In brief, to me, a hacktivist is an evolution of the classic hacker in the modern world. We are no longer just fighting greedy corporations, we are fighting the usurpation of power. Hacktivism as a phenomenon, it seems to me, could not have emerged in democratic countries.

Being part of a team like this is like being on the crest of a wave of history.


How did you join us and why did you choose our group from all the protest groups?


The Storks introduced me to the Cyber Partisans. And I was attracted to the Storks because they were not flowery talkers or tactical runners [i.e. those who are only good at running away from riot police, but not ready for real resistance].


What do you think of our group? What are the pros and cons of being a Cyber Partisans?


I've found a huge number of like-minded people here - people who do things rather than talk. I guess the only downside is that we can't meet in real life yet.


"Being part of a team like this is like being on the crest of a wave of history".
"Being part of a team like this is like being on the crest of a wave of history".

Stress. Psychological training. Safety Tips


Is it hard to be anonymous without being able to tell at least acquaintances what you do for 2-3 years?


It's very difficult, even people close to me don't know what I do. I have an elaborate legend that allows me to explain why I am online and why I have such equipment. You know, like they say, going illegal with a good cover.


What's the hardest part of this for you?


The hardest part is that you have to actually have a split personality. In real life, you have to be one person and you can't talk about any of the Cyber Partisans' business. And to be anonymous online, you can't talk about anything personal from the real world. In both cases, you have to distort the information very badly to avoid detection. It takes a lot of psychological strain.


How do you manage to cope with such stress for so long?


I can tell you straight away, that it's not alcohol or mind-expanding substances. 😆

There is a personal recipe, but it's based on Shaolin monk-type training and Japanese ninjutsu. For psychiatrists, I may be an interesting patient, but I have learned a controlled split personality. In brief, first, you have to learn to think in two or more streams of consciousness, then you have to make so-called casts of your personality, more precisely, to put aside in memory psychological states with the possibility to return to them, including arbitrary control of the emotional sphere. Well, and then you can start trying to form different personalities in separate thought streams. I still haven't mastered this 100%, that's why it's a big psychological load.

And I relax simply - I get out of the daily routine to a place where there is neither ordinary life nor Cyber Partisans. There you can sit, meditate, or just relax while contemplating beautiful things. 😄


In your opinion, what is the most important thing for political activists inside Belarus right now? How do they keep their strength, what to do?


We can take an example from the Bolsheviks at the beginning of the 20th century: organizing the underground, introducing agents of influence, and educational and propaganda work, of course, without forgetting about conspiracy.

For those who can, I also advise them to develop knowledge and skills in IT.


Do you have any of your practices on how to deal with anxiety and stress about what the intelligence services might discover? What could you advise activists who are now in Belarus?


In terms of psychological peace of mind, it's having a healthy paranoia. 😃

Partisanship should be done in such a way that the last thing anyone would think of you is that you are a partisan. 😆 It's probably like acting.

And seriously, digital and social hygiene should be first and foremost. Other than that, I see two options for regular people (without specialized training).

The first is to believe in the rightness of one's path. Then you don't give a damn about all the alarms regarding special services, you are like a fanatic - you are ready to die for your cause.

The second option is very well described in the book "The Birth of the Steel Rat". You have to become the very "steel rat" that walks around inside the system as it wants, and if an outsider is looking at it, it is not noticed.


As for "digital hygiene", what advice could I give to Belarusians?


  1. Hide everything that an investigator can get to, keep it in hidden spaces. [It's about special programs for creating "hidden spaces" on your computer and phone, to which there is no access without knowing the password]. But at the same time, leave exactly the same software with fully legitimate content on the main desktop. [For example, this is how you can keep two Telegrams on Android phones - one in a hidden space and one in plain sight.]

  2. Only keep VPN apps in plain sight if you can justify their presence in an interview with an investigator, such as work. Otherwise, only install VPN apps in a hidden space.

  3. Remember, if someone takes you seriously, they will break you and make you talk. Your goal is not to get burned in a random check.

"I relax simply - I get out of the daily routine to a place where there is neither ordinary life nor Cyber Partisans. There you can sit, meditate, or just relax while contemplating beautiful things".
"I relax simply - I get out of the daily routine to a place where there is neither ordinary life nor Cyber Partisans. There you can sit, meditate, or just relax while contemplating beautiful things".

The future of Belarus. Work in an intelligence agency. Code of honor


If you could go back in time and tell yourself what happened during these 3 years, would you dissuade yourself from taking part in the protests?


If I could go back 3 years, no - that's the way it is.🙂 I live by the principle of never regretting what I did or didn't do. We'll wait and see, we'll survive - we'll take it into account.


What are you personally fighting for? How do you see Belarus, you do all this for?


Ideally, I want to see Belarus as a kind of Switzerland on minimum wages.😄 I want my children to be taught not by brain-dead teachers, who entered the pedagogical university because they couldn't get anywhere else. I want a police officer not to be feared, but respected as in the "golden age" of the USSR. So a passport of a citizen of Belarus would allow them to go on holiday to any country without a visa.


Who do you think Cyber Partisans will be in this New Belarus, what will they do?


I hope that some of us will be able to go into the public or near-public field and organize a kind of digital sanitation or some version of the NSA [National Security Agency - a intelligence agency of the US Defense Ministry, part of the US Intelligence Community as an independent intelligence agency. It is engaged in electronic, scientific and technical intelligence, cyberintelligence, military counterintelligence, and electronic communication networks of state institutions]. That is, to work for the benefit of New Belarus. But some [Cyber Partisans] will simply stay in the shadows for security reasons, personal paranoia, or even out of habit.

Maybe some of them will go into teaching because they will have to teach the young.

Well, and memoirs, definitely [some Cyber Partisans will write]. There are such memories here that it would be possible to make multi-part blockbusters.


And who do you see yourself as in New Belarus?


It depends on whether I'll be in Belarus or emigration. If I'm in Belarus, I'll go to the new intelligence agency. Someone will have to put the country on new rails and fight against counter-propaganda. And if I am in emigration, the longer I stay, the less likely I am to return. There will simply be no point. I will help, come and give lectures, but I will hardly live permanently.


You're going to join a new intelligence agency. What kind of intelligence agency?


Our equivalent of the National Security Agency. In general, in that version of the service, which will appear in place of the current units Operational and Analytical Center and KGB, which screwed up completely.

Once upon a time, when I was young and naive, I even dreamed of serving in the intelligence agency of my native country.


What stopped me from such a choice?


Some inner gut feeling stopped me, although I had serious intentions.


What attracted you to work in the special service?


I had a lot of friends for whom the words "I have honor" meant not just a military greeting, but rather a notion of honor typical of tsarists officers.


"When I was young and naive, I even dreamed of serving in the intelligence agency of my native country".
"When I was young and naive, I even dreamed of serving in the intelligence agency of my native country".

What does the word 'honor' mean to you?


The concept of "honor" for me is comparable to the medieval code of chivalry and the same "guardians of the sea" - midshipmen (Sorokina): "Life to the motherland, honor to no one." [Reference to Nina Sorokina's book "Grade Marines Ahead!"]. It is very difficult to describe it briefly, you will have to make a lot of references to history and literature.


Do you still keep in touch with those friends who inspired you to "serve the motherland"?


They are mostly retired people. I communicate with a small number of people: those who served in the Interior Ministry under the leadership of Zakharchenko, and guys from military families of the old school. But this communication is rather on the level of "hello-bye".



Do they support Lukashenko?


Of those with whom I communicate, no one supports the blue-fingered old man. Some of them know a lot about him, but they keep silent, trying not to mention whom and how they served.


Do you have any "yabatki" among your acquaintances?


I do. 😣 And of different levels of fucked-upness.


Have you tried talking to them about politics, trying to change their minds?


I haven't even tried. They are all people who idealize the Soviet Union and blame everything on the Americans, or hardened Rashists who think Russia is great. I don't even want to change their minds, they are sick people.

"The concept of "honor" for me is comparable to the medieval code of chivalry".
"The concept of "honor" for me is comparable to the medieval code of chivalry".

The latest news. Kalinowski's regiment. Armed rebellion


Do you still actively follow the news in the country and abroad, or do you follow it less often?


I actively follow. I pay a lot of attention to the situation in Ukraine. In today's world, you have to be on the agenda at least by the edge of your ear. So I even follow the rates of cryptocurrency. 😆


Why do you think it's important not to miss the news agenda, although news nowadays is rarely happy?


Why should they always please? News is information, those who don't have information can just get left behind, slip into "yabatka state" and so on. I not only follow the information field, but I correlate information from different sources to get a bigger picture.


What news from the last few days was particularly catchy, and memorable and why?


When the "pidvodnyi choven" was shot down. 😃 [Meaning the successful attack of Ukrainians on the submarine "Rostov-on-Don" on 13 September 2023 in Sevastopol]. This said a lot to me as a person who studied the defense of Sevastopol during WWII and the history of the Crimean Wars in general.

From the Belarusian news, the information about compulsory work for paid students after higher education caught my attention. Here the reaction was negative. How much the runaway population bothers the usurpers that they go to extreme measures. What's next? Closing the borders? The introduction of serfdom? Although for specialists in the countryside, it has already been introduced.


What was the most positive news/impression for you during the last year?


The unification of the Cyberpartisans and the Kalinowski Regiment is the most powerful event.


"The unification of the Cyberpartisans and the Kalinowski Regiment is the most powerful event.".
"The unification of the Cyberpartisans and the Kalinowski Regiment is the most powerful event.".

Why? 🙂


Two structures that can [strike at dictatorship] are uniting. Theoretically, this is already a serious bid not only for a place under the sun in the future of Belarus but also a real threat to the regime.

I hope that in the foreseeable future, I will see the realization of plans for an armed uprising against the junta with the release of political prisoners. And maybe I'll be able to take part in it.

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