24 May 2018, Thursday, 8:56
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Yury Khashchavatski: How They Divide The Drazdy ‘Pie’

CARTOON BY EVGENIY KRAN

Armenian manuals will be useful also in Belarus.

On April 2, Lukashenka dismissed Energy Minister Uladzimir Patupchyk with the wording: “for the patronage of setting up an illegal family business”.

So, what family business is considered legal in the country? Charter97.org addressed to famous Belarusian movie director Yury Khashchavatski with this question:

- There’s only one legal business in Belarus. Certainly, it’s the business of the Lukashenka family. No one asks questions about the “legality”, when one of his sons covers gaming industry, casino, lotteries and everything of the like. Why, this is a classical legal business. All the other businesses, as we see, can be made out of law. Private entrepreneurship requires getting an indulgence from the Master of Drazdy, thus, it is considered illegal a priori. Everything is illegal in the spheres where people can somehow earn money for themselves and their families. Only the business where people will earn money for the Lukashenka family will be regarded as legal.

- Is it possible to say that a family-clan model of the economy is built in Belarus?

- There are certain facts confirming this, although they are under very serious control. But, you know, you cannot hide an eel in a sack, a truth will out, and periodically the public learns interesting facts. So it became known about the control of the powerful clan over the lottery and gambling. Everyone knows about this side of the "family business" now.

We can judge the structure of such a "shadow economy" only by indirect facts. Undoubtedly, senior officials get their share of the big Drazdy pie. This is evident from the fact that a cottage is now being built in the new Minsk Rublyovka or in the heart of the old Drazdy. Simple field observations will show which cars are parked there - it means that their owners are in favor and have their share in the "family business".

Even without delving into the question of where the Drazdy dwellers are earning, by the way they live in their small millionth Cil Deir Bie, it is quite obvious that, in addition to the salaries of civil servants, they have very serious "extra earnings". And from time to time we find out about it.

True, we learn about this when an official climbs into somebody else’s territory, touches the interests of Lukashenka's family and takes more than he was allowed. This is, most likely, how it happened in the case of Mr. Patupchik.

The fact that everything works on the principle of "allowed to pinch a piece" is obvious. They are allowed something only to end up on the hook as a result. Today, absolutely all officials are hooked on Lukashenka - and each of them can be dismissed and imprisoned. Precisely because the dictator's security service knows where and who pinches the piece of pie offered to them.

That’s what Lukashenka started his rule with: he put all the evidence about corruption that the people who handled this issue under Kebich gave him, in a safe.

Lukashenka has been playing with this “lottery” since the very start of his rule till now: puts officials on the hook and then takes them out of the pack one by one. This is what happened with Chief of the Belarusian Television Yahor Rybakou: he was allowed to backslide and then they quietly put him to prison, when he tried to demonstrate one’s independence and had a go on Sheyman. This is how the Fortune’s Wheel goes round at power, using as fuel greediness, falsehood and thievishness of the people related to the division of the “pie”.

- What are the main components of the country’s “only legal business”??

- The main income is the so-called "presidential fund", which is formed nobody knows how and exists illegally. There is information that it includes arms trafficking, smuggling of oil products and "solvents", and part of the proceeds from gambling and lottery. This is what lies on the surface.

I assure you that when there is no Lukashenka at power, then a lot will open up, besides this. We will learn a lot of new, interesting and wonderful things. And this is precisely what prevents him from leaving power.

This is precisely what the ruler fears of - when he steps back from the helm of power, according to the apt expression of Viktor Shenderovich, "a crowd of people will immediately come running, who will take fingerprints from this helm.

- Armenian economists and journalists note that the success of the protests in their country is connected also with the desire to eliminate the clan economy, which leaves few opportunities for the people and force them to emigrate. Will the “Armenian recipe” work in Belarus?

- Certainly, there are some parallels between the situation in the economy of Armenia and Belarus. And the people's revolution is a natural response to such a model of enriching the ruling clan. But what is happening in Armenia is not yet a recipe for correction.

This is so far only an instruction on how to push the thieves away from power. And how much later they will be able to squeeze and return illegally seized pieces of property and stolen capitals remains a separate issue. For example, in Ukraine, the Revolution of Dignity pushed Yanukovych's thieves away from power. But a huge number of crooks still remain. So far, we do not see that the fight against corruption there ended successfully, it is still going on.

Do not think that removing the ruling clan from power is the solution to all problems. Because, unfortunately, in our society, morality is still pushed to the "backyard." And those who come to replace this power, will be tempted to take something for themselves.

In this sense, the society must make sure in advance it establishes control over the authorities - so that it does not happen. And the mechanisms are known here: a democratic parliament that has the capacity and power to cope with such leaders, plus an absolutely free press, which Belarusians need to defend now.

- Are there any grounds to believe that Belarusians may find it easier to cope with the heritage of the clan past after the change of power than, for example, Ukrainians, due to some national peculiarities?

- This is absolutely true, Belarusians have their own national, we might say, mental features. Belarusians are largely inclined to some kind of internal justice and order. Let's look at the last years of the existence of the BSSR: the top of the Belarusian Central Committee was not caught up in mass stealing. In comparison with the present, they lived very modestly. They had their privileges, but this does not compare with the luxury of today's top officials. It's heaven and earth.

Therefore, in the free Belarus, corruption will be the beast that is not very strong by definition and not very characteristic of the society. But still - the people should put the power under the very strict control. After the family clan of Lukashenka leaves. But how to remove it from power - this is a completely different, but very important issue for us.