11 December 2019, Wednesday, 2:53
The Wait Is Nearly Over

We Need a City and a Country

We Need a City and a Country
Iryna Khalip

One cannot be free in ghetto.

A colleague has recently visited Kyiv and been insufferably surprised: the fact that we are allowed to listen to jazz in Minsk on Saturdays is not Europe at all; in Kyiv you can hear music everywhere, as well as you can see couples drinking wine on the bank of Dnieper - this is the life.

Other colleague walked along Minsk Zybitskaya Street and wrote with with abandon: you'd better visit it, it's such a good place with special forces everywhere.

Then one more colleague returned to Minsk after a few years of work in Europe and visited jazz Saturday. Then he says: well, it's nice when you're standing in the center, as soon as you step to the side you can see special services. It looks like you're encircled and will be engaged fire on.

Other my friend has bought a T-shirt of our national team and come to the concert, a riot policeman asks him angrily: "Are you a Nazi?"

The fifth colleague has recently gone on Zybitskaya Street and then found himself at the police station; according to riot policemen he was drunk. Other colleagues have recently published the story about a young couple beaten by the riot police in the very Zybitskaya Srt.: young couple was sitting on stairs, drinking cider, and waiting for an available table. They were detained, beaten up and kept by police until the morning. They will be tried, of course.

I think everything is clear and transparent in Belarus. Speaking frankly, I still cannot understand this endless flow of honey words poured out by social networks and even some media: "Minsk is a European city! Belarus is Europe! We are allowed to listen to jazz on Saturdays! We have Zybitskaya street! You can legally drink and dance here, the dj is on the balcony - it's Europe, drunk girls lean out of a car!"

It's surprising that many of them either have been repressed or their compadre-brother- co-father-in-law was jailed for participation in protest actions. Well, you're the darling of fortune, if only read about it. Or wrote. If nothing of it, then they surely changed their user pictures in accordance with an event: a national flag in solidarity with starving Kavalenka, a portrait of Statkevich, or "Vivat Belarus!". In general, they read not only fairy tales, not only watched the TV and visited Belarusian agricultural homesteads.

But they are now sincerely happy with a day to listen to music in the city centre. And one more time - to go to the special alcohol ghetto where, of course, they can be hit in kidneys, but there is a chance to get drunk enough without drawing up any protocol. They are as happy as kinds who are allowed to pee off a pottie once a week, although there is no certainty in whether they are to be punished or not. Stories of colleagues, their friends, and a beaten up couple are only the beginning. As a warning everyone who cries "Europe!" will be beaten up from time to time.

Don't these educated people remember that there is no freedom in ghetto? It ends up with echelons to Auschwitz, no matter how much they try to deaden sufferings and wobbling sound with music. There are no European values in the dictatorship, in other words, there is no European dictatorship in the world. There can be no free alley in the dictatorial country. The rules are single for everyone: to sit still and do not interfere. Alcohol on Fridays, music on Saturdays, sex on Sundays, the execution on Mondays, to think is not allowed. If someone forgot about it - security-minded riot policemen will quickly remind you of it.

The first colleague was shocked by Kyiv: you can hear music everywhere. Oh, it takes a whole night to get to Kyiv by train – it's a week of Sundays. To get to Vilnius you need just two hours by an electric train. Well, two hours later you can also hear any music at every step since the spring before the autumn. By the way, the nationwide favorite Siarhei Mikhalok cannot come on Zybitskaya and sing there, or near the town Hall, or any Minsk platform. In Vilnius it's possible. And all those who turn on official permission of vyshyvanka (traditional embroidered shirt) and no lack of drinks on Zybitskaya str. get in a train and leave for Vilnius to listen to Mikhalok. Or for Warsaw. Or for Kyiv. And to buy some food and clothes of world brands, which for some reason do not want to open shops in our European ghetto.

I cannot admire the fact that there is now a street in Minsk where people can freely drink before the first hit of the riot police, of course. The street is a reservation. Music sounds everywhere in a free country, not at a specially organized place. We need not a street to drink, but the entire city to walk freely wearing either a t-shirt with Pahonia or Krishnaite orange clothes. And, of course, the entire country to live in.

I would give a good piece of advice to those who go to Zybitskaya. You'd better take a first-aid kit with you. Because after a meeting with the riot police iodine and a bandage are required, not mojito.

Iryna Khalip, especially for charter97.org