31 March 2020, Tuesday, 13:38
People’s Quarantine

The Air Has Won

The Air Has Won
Iryna Khalip

Bloggers are not the speed of the authorities.

Lately, no matter how often I read news, I come across information about a blogger's arrest. Or a new criminal case against a blogger. Or a search at a blogger's house. There are too many of them - not bloggers, of course, but repressions against them. Activists used to be hunted, but this season it seems a new sort of dangerous predators has been discovered.

A well-known Brest blogger Siarhei Piatrukhin is accused under two articles of the Criminal Code - "libel" and "insult". Victims are policemen from the Leninski District Department of Internal Affairs of Brest. There are four of them. Piatrukhin came to the police station and four of them rushed to write reports "punish this man, he insulted us!" His friend and colleague on actions against the battery plant Aliaksandr Kabanau is also accused in a criminal case - on the complaint of a policeman from Biaroza, whose money Kabanau allegedly embezzled. The search of parents' and his girlfriend's apartments is a standard procedure to put pressure on an accused: that's how a powerful state machine is working against you, how many efforts are made, how many hours are wasted! Be afraid and run to hide.

Two days ago Homel insulted joined those from Brest: a well-known blogger Andrei Pavuk was detained and taken to the investigative committee, because he had allegedly announced about the mining of the executive committee in the town of Kastrychnitski. However, he was released later, but a criminal case was initiated and all the equipment was seized. The procedural status of the blogger is unknown. Pavuk, of course, is an eccentric figure, so far nobody has been able to prove that his work "I come from the village" is nastiness, as nobody could prove that it was written seriously. But it doesn't matter what a pioneer from Kastrychnitski sang seven years ago: it was not Pavuk-author, but Pavuk-blogger who became really popular, engaging with his originality and boldness. And now he is also persecuted.

I'm not talking about Stsyapan Svyatlou, known as NEXTA: the Ministry of Internal Affairs gathers operational meetings because of this young blogger. They spend hours analyzing how a student can get information. The equipment was taken out of Stsyapan's parents' house long ago. Fortunately, now they can't reach him. But he is available 24 hours a day for those who are ready to provide information. Messengers and other achievements have excluded personal meeting from the "source-recipient" bundle. Earlier, it was possible to identify the source of a leak if there was a strong operational will, but now it is not. One used to put pressure on a journalist and especially his editor, to threaten or to promise, but not to allow publication. Or, as a last resort, to confiscate and destroy the newspaper's circulation, for example. But a blogger is an editor, a reporter, and a printing house. No circulation can be withdrawn from the Internet. That's why they get vicious.

I fully understand Deputy Interior Minister Aliaksandr Barsukou, who has recently made a quite successful statement: publications on the Internet, create a destructive background. He is right. Destructive and annoying. You are at work, but you can't concentrate. If you serf websites, you're afraid to look at the phone, what if Telegram signals. How is it possible to serve the motherland when it finally makes a sound or a laughing colleague, or the website expelled from the country publishes news about you? It's a complete failure. Its sources are subject to immediate destruction.

And then the blogger hunting begins. They are the ultimate, uncontrollable evil. If they are destroyed, there is a chance to stop this endless flow of information and its evidence. Only people wearing shoulder straps can't see that fighting the Internet is like fighting the air. You can arrest a blogger. One can even kill him. But everything posted on the Internet will not vanish, but will spread at an high speed. The wind cannot be stopped. The air can't be banned. The Internet has become a non-material substance, which is not the speed of all law enforcers of the world - not to mention our C students. This is a new freedom of speech, which provides for itself, without accreditations, permissions and laws. Even an atomic bomb will not destroy it.

Air has already won.

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org