The letter to Natallia Radzina.
Hello, my friend!
You know, it was better before. Not because the grass was greener and we were younger, but because we were all together against the criminal power. We were a community of like-minded people, and even though everyone within the community treated each other differently, we stayed together. There was a common enemy, and other things came later. Or never.
I can't specify the date when things changed. But it happened not so long ago - three or four years ago. Maybe five. However, it doesn't matter. The thing that matters - it's of bitter nature.
I personally realised the scale of the drama a year ago, when the authorities officially blocked the Charter's website. It seemed that at least everyone should be indignant: we are a community, we have a common enemy! But amid incredible international solidarity suddenly it turned out that many people here were not only anonymous Internet trolls, but also quite tangible human beings with names and surnames, sometimes even acquaintances. And they gloated. That's just tough. The Charter got free traffic and readers, while we are trying to convince everyone that the Belarusian independent site cannot have more than five thousand visitors a day. Now let them sit in their Poland, deprived of audience, and junk their grants. "It's high time to pull the plug!" It's a rather common thesis. And now when it's known that Poland intends to drastically reduce its assistance to the website, bad things have tripled. The gloating ran high: yeah, now they have no money. Life's great. Let's take some beer.
I remember perfectly well how a year ago you asked an editor of a newspaper to publish the news that the European Parliament adopted a resolution to block the Charter. The colleague told that the news about all international resolutions were not popular and did not add to the traffic. He pretended he didn't get that the article would be just a demonstration of solidarity. Such news will never outrun something like "Miss Minsk Is Stripper" or "The Pooping Kitty - The Star on the Internet", but they are published for completely different reasons. It's like a friendly handshake: we're here, we're also outraged. I heard more support from passers-by on the streets than from my colleagues.
I tried to get the reason for gloating, and I failed. Because there are no good reasons. Maybe, only envy? If it comes from deep within, everything is clear. They think you feel great there. You are in Warsaw, and the Polish government pays (they think so, don't they?), and you live near a big shopping mall. Nice job! You can go shopping in slippers.
You can never explain or tell them anything. They're not too interested in what it's like not to say goodbye to your grandmother. When you know your nephews from the photos. When there is no chance to hide in your own room in Kobryn and have a good cry, as in childhood. When you can't even save enough junk, because you're constantly ready to leave for Belarus. When you know that you return not to your own house, but to a rented apartment, and start everything from nothing again: life and the purchase of pots. But it is boring to think about pots, as well as about grandmother's funeral. But a grant from the Polish government is a reason to exclaim "It's high time to pull the plug!".
Blinded by envy, they do not realise that in their hysterical cries or arrogant silence they are as same as those officials who fight with the Charter. The only difference is that the site really jeopardizes officials. They just heroically fight for their own well-being - bribes, cottages, suitcases of cash under the bathroom, the right not to obey laws, high monetization of their signature on an official letterhead. And those who seemingly want democracy and hate the Charter have no power, no bribes, and no right to neglect the law. There is only envy. This is the bottom of the food chain, alas.
Natasha, I damn miss you here in Minsk. But I know you'll come back. We'll sit on my balcony again overlooking the stupid Simon Bolivar Square, wolf down one shot and wish our haters: "Let them be lucky!" We will sit and talk until dawn. In the middle of the night, my sleepy husband will step out onto the balcony and turn surprised about late hours. And in the morning Pashka Marinich will come and then we will all drive to the airport to meet Lenchik Novitsky, who is in Paris now. But how can he miss such an event? All this will happen soon. Maybe not so soon, but it will happen anyway.
And today I congratulate you on the BPR reward. This is very cool and you deserve it, like no other. And you will cope with problems of the Charter. We will cope. After all, we, unlike them, are all together. After all, the Charter existed, exists and will exist.
Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org
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