20 April 2019, Saturday, 16:16
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Brand and Trend

36
Iryna Khalip

In general, stability has failed.

Public servants have finally defined the Belarusian national brand - the dictatorship. Spokesman for Lukashenka declared it officially. And then her boss added at some shady meeting of the Security Council: "If people are granted the freedom of opinion, it won't be a dictatorship anymore, but a democracy". No democracy is allowed, because there is the brand.

Some of my colleagues even rejoiced: yeah, the guys got burned, couldn't resist, and just forgot the terminology. But nothing new happened. It's an old song, and not speeches of the press secretary and its master are annoying, but the fact that everything in the world has changed for a quarter of a century, but not our country.

Long ago, in the nineties, Lukashenka had an assistant named Siarhei Posakhau, a retiree. He liked to dress up in a suit with a tint and talk to journalists about the current situation. And in 1996, sitting in the editorial office of the newspaper Imya, Posakhau told us: "And why are you all crying out about repressions? You are professionals, you should realize if there were no repressions, nobody in the world would ever know about Belarus! We don't have anything. What is our contribution? Pesnyary? Viskuli? Belovezhskaya tincture? And now the world knows us.

I'd like to remind you that it was 1996. The referendum that abolished the Constitution was not even held. The box of repressions involved Slavomir Adamovich, who was arrested for his poem "Kill the President" and dispersed the Chernobyl Shlyach, after which Vyachyslau Siuchyk and Yury Khadyko were imprisoned. There were no mass arrests, kidnappings, murders, or suicides. Henadz Karpenka and Yury Zakharanka were alive. Viktar Hanchar was the head of the Central Election Commission, and his friend Anatol Krasouski published books, not knowing that he would sacrifice his life for that friendship. Yana Palyakova just graduated from the law school and enjoyed her endless youth without thinking about a rope. And the Supreme Soviet, though strange as it may seem today, was real.

It used to be like that. Now one may say it was relatively vegetarian time. And Lukashenka's assistants together with the boss have already decided: let Belarus be known as a dictatorship, because we can't come up with anything else.

And now it's been a quarter of a century. Estonians vote on the Internet, Poles have their wages constantly increased and the medication fee for the elderly is cancelled, Russians are waging wars of invasion, Ukrainians are defending their lands - whatever. And we have the same old song. As if the computer got stuck. The picture on the monitor does not change. And people say that we have nothing but repressions announced a brand.

There were some clumsy attempts, of course. For example, to make stability a Belarusian brand. It failed - enterprises are closing down, industrial giants don't know what to do with their products and workers, pensions are cancelled using simple manipulations such as pension insurance record.

Nobody mentions the IT-country anymore, because the very mention of this clumsy term can only cause laughter: just try to order a coupon to a doctor via the Internet for that myth to disappear like a bad dream. There was even a hopeless attempt to make Dorofeeva a brand of Belarus. But then officials got scared: they would have to listen to her songs, and they quickly abandoned the idea, while Dorofeeva was shut up with a mandate not to sing. Oh, yes, Belarus is also the country of parasites, but it easily meets the brand of dictatorship.

That's it. 25 years of state vacuum and human casualties. Everything is destroyed and nothing is created. Only the word "brand" is learned and they show it off. They also learned the consonant word "trend". And here's the result. The brand is a dictatorship; the trend is a public demonstration of officials' own misery. The more miserable, the more successful the career is. The more repressions, the more recognizable the brand is.

Belarus should have stayed the country of Pesnyary and Viskuli.

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org

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