23 March 2019, Saturday, 10:36
A Challenge for Everyone

Kommersant-Daily: Forum With Participation Of Lukashenka And Putin - The Play Of Absurd

Questions followed in a row, and Lukashenka permanently gave the ground for new ones.

Journalist of Kommersant-Daily Alexei Kolesnikov made light of behavior of the Belarusian dictator and his youngest son who participated in the Fifth Forum of Regions in Mahilyou.

Before the Forum Vladimir Putin and Aliaksandr Lukashenka met in private. They were about to enter the conference room on the second floor of the Palace of Culture, but Mikhail Miasnikovich, Chairman of the" Council of the Republic", stopped them. Mr. Miasnikovich decided to greet Mr. Putin a happy birthday.

- We have prepared a gift for you! Miasnikovich spoke out cheerfully.

- What kind of?, Vladimir Putin wondered.

- Certificates for you and Aliaksandr Ryhoravich! he smiled.

Everyone was convinced that Aliaksandr Lukashenka would be also involved in the event, although he had nothing to do with Vladimir Putin's birthday.

In the beginning of the conversation Aliaksandr Lukashenka himself told strange things. He stated he was glad to see Vladimir Putin on "this, almost Russian, plot of land".

- Yes, this land is likely Russian than Belarusian!

Such persistence could suggest that Mahilyou region was about to become the part of the "native bay" again. I thought Aliaksandr Lukashenka had to be the last person to say such things. But he was the first.

- I personally walked here with my feet! he continued.

It was increasingly strange. What did he mean? That he could use other feet to walk? And then, when does he use his own feet and when not? What where?

Questions followed in a row, and Lukashenka permanently gave the ground for new ones.

- I was almost barefoot! he exclaimed.

What do you mean "almost"? Wearing socks?

- In general, I have sweet memories about this city, the ruler of Belarus summed up.

And I realized that my memories would be even better.

After that, Vladimir Putin and Aliaksandr Lukashenka holed up, having nodded to the journalists (although it already was enough), and about half a thousand participants of the forum of the regions started waiting for them in the hall.

The conversation of the two rulers under protocol was aimed to take 20 minutes, but it was obvious it would run over: at least for the reason that exactly that morning Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak announced that Russia had embargoed the exports of light and dark petroleum products, as well as liquefied petroleum gas to Belarus until the end of 2019. This applies to gasoline, and diesel fuel, and fuel oil.

After this, frankly speaking, the whole forum of the regions, which symbolizes special relations between the two countries, or rather fraternal republics, on the lands of which people run to and fro almost barefoot, started appearing to me as some theatrical show of absurdity, demonstrated to us in the regional Palace of Culture together with the gala concert “We Are Together!” for the participants of the forum. However, it would be better to realize that the point was the supply of oil products in the first place, not actual oil, of which Belarus produces oil products by itself, fully satisfying own needs and selling the oil products to other countries.

However, from Russia’s point of view this was a demeanor. A long-expected, not the friendliest one. This was a story hinting that next time it could be oil.

I entered the concert hall and turned around. There was still silence: Vladimir Putin and Aliaksandr Lukashenka could appear any second. Governor of the Tula region Alexey Dyumin, Governor of the Krasnodar Territory Veniamin Kondratyev, State Secretary of the “union state” Ryhor Rapota, Speaker of the Council of Federation Valentina Matviyenko, the same Mikhail Miasnikovich, the heads of the Belarusian regions, the ministers of the Belarusian government… Everyone was there.

Nope, not everyone. At that moment I realized quite clearly that one person, to whose presence the whole Belarus got used to, and even myself, was missing. I didn’t see Kolya, or rather, Mikalai.

I started worrying if something happened to him. Or maybe he’s at the negotiations, with his Batka and ours? No, the boy, or almost the man, wasn’t there.

I decided to go outside as I understood there’s too much time to wait yet. Oh my God! I saw Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s son by the door. He looked at me, nodded (no, he could not possibly know me), and politely opened the door. It wasn’t needed to ask him twice or even once. It seemed to me he even gave a little bow.

The forum, after Aliaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin finally appeared in the hall, was opened by Governor of the Tula region Alexey Dyumin. Yes, he said with self-criticism, the Tula and Mahiliou regions have no common border. However, does it really mean anything? And Mr. Dyumin was convincing us in detail why it actually meant nothing, for some ten minutes.

He got to the point that it was decided to grow Belarusian potatoes in the Tula region, and ship potato flakes to Belarus (they already do). Yes, it may seem cynical, but can it work any other way?

Aliaksandr Lukashenka, besides, quite cautiously noted that “at least on the eve of the forum we have settled (it was in Sochi – A.K.) how our problems will be solved”, having referred to the fact that some limitations occur in the mutual supplies all the time (he could have made sure of it that morning).

However, in general he spoke with the audience in a just piercing way:

- We have an experience of cooperation at far but so dear Sakhalin!

This is where every participant of the forum should have decided for themselves why Sakhalin was so dear to them personally (thank God the issue of why it was so far was solved already).

Aliaksandr Lukashenka seemed upset because only fifty Belarusians entered Russian universities this year, while more than two thousand made it to the universities of Europe. He admitted that to make them study in Russia is impossible, but “we can do so there will be more of them studying in Russia”.

A break was announced after Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s speech, and Vladimir Putin took advantage of it and flew to Moscow. Other participants of the forum were in no hurry to leave. The Russian seemed to have seen each other too long ago, and wanted to have a long talk.