20 March 2019, Wednesday, 17:15
A Challenge for Everyone

Political Officers In Dusty Helmets

Iryna Khalip

We have a global centre of technology and democracy here.

Did I miss anything? Political prisoners are released, the Charter is unlocked and has become the home page in all state institutions, killers of Zakharanka, Hanchar, Zavadski are arrested and waiting for the trial, "Trade Unions' case" is terminated, the public insurance record is canceled, parasites decrees of all versions are burned in archives, and the use of the phrase "citizens not employed in the economy" bears the execution... I does not mean execution, because there is no more death penalty.

It is true, isn't it? This is the only explanation of the second visit over the last six months of EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn. Just remember his first visit on January 30, six days after an official block of Charter97.org. He said no word about the destruction of the most popular independent site, about political prisoners, about defendants Fyadynich and Komlik. Instead, we witnessed welcoming dialogues and solemn promise of Makei on early completion of negotiations on facilitation of the visa regime to let dear citizens pay 35 euro instead of current 60. Makei proudly added then that Belarusians lead by the number of Schengen visas issued. However, it's not clear what race he meant; after all, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia do not need the visa at all, and Azerbaijanis prefer going to Istanbul and Dubai rather than to Vilnius and Bialystok. So Belarus is the only competitor of itself, that's why it's the leader.

Six months passed by. Johannes Hahn visits Lukashenka and Makei again, any day the cost of the visa for Belarusians will increase from 60 to 80 euro. It’s a fruitful cooperation, isn't it? Both parties have something to be proud of. However, 80 euro for the Schengen visa is not the only our achievement. Three people have been executed during six months in Belarus. The Trade Unions' case is taken to court with tricky indictment. They came up with a new edition of the parasite decree and now create corresponding commissions. Dozens of Minsk dwellers were detained and beaten on March 25, Yakub Kolas Square. Independent journalists are being persecuted. All Internet loopholes are closed not to let people read the Charter. Mikhail Zhemchuzhny was beaten in a punitive confinement. We got used to such a way of life, it's a norm.

It's high time to enjoy the cooperation; and it's not a problem that in late April Johannes Hahn stated in his letter to Natallia Radzina that relations between Belarus and the European Union would depend on real steps of the Belarusian regime towards respect to human rights. After all, backstage discussion of bypassing of Russian food sanctions and protection of European manufactires is more significant. Lukashenka has repeated several times that Belarus is open to the EU serving as a transit window, and trade and economic relations are of high priority.

By the way, this time Johannes Hahn arrives together with another commissioner - Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy. Of course, we are, they say, the capital of the global digital economy. For example, we can find a hotel with hot water supply in the summer and check in them there. We have a chance to visit a doctor in a polyclinic without wasting a half of the day for it (they say it happens). Zhemchuzhny will be released from the isolation confinement and will file out Iphones. Comrades commissioners arrive at the right address, we have a global centre of technology and democracy here.

And whether it is worth surprising that in late May the European Union has launched an incomprehensible communication campaign "Change life for the better together" - the way the EU and Belarus are moving together towards a bright future. Just in time, I support it. Let's together deny laws, block sites, jail activists, harass journalists, drag money from the unemployed, separate children for debts in utility bills, destroy Trade Unions, mock at political prisoners. It makes more fun together, especially if real commissioners are next to you.

Iryna Khalip, specially for Charter97.org