22 October 2020, Thursday, 0:30
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

The Ref Needs Specs!

The Ref Needs Specs!
Iryna Khalip

Did they hope to intimidate the athletes with prison?

"He knew the consequences" is the stupidest and meanest phrase of all. One used it towards the disappearance of Zakharenka and Hanchar. One said they went up against the tyrant deliberately - it means that they assumed they could be killed and agreed to die. One used these words towards politicians who were thrown into prisons for a quarter of a century. It was applicable towards journalists who were beaten at rallies and also imprisoned. One used them against people who took to the streets and lost their jobs and careers. "They knew the consequences" means meanness, arrogance, and cowardice.

Fortunately, Belarusians no longer pronounce this phrase. It sounds shameful. The Belarusians have realized that a conscious choice of resistance, not of dubious well-being, is not "they knew the consequences" but the only way to live in harmony with one's conscience.

One never used this phrase against athletes at all, regardless of what they said out loud. After all, everything was always clear with athletes: they know exactly what they have been doing since childhood.

They chose training in the morning while their peers were still sleeping in peace, and the alarm clock was at least an hour away from waking them up for school. Training in the evening, when friends were playing computer games. Sports camp in summer instead of a trip to the sea with Mom and Dad. And this was in childhood. And then followed training camps, competitions, championships, injuries, doping tests, strict self-control, the toughest regime and a very short sports career. There was no guarantee that it would end with an Olympic medal or even a championship title.

Elena Levchenko is in sports as long as Sasha 3 is in power. And now let's compare their lives. One has honest victories through sweat and blood (it is not a metaphor: two operations on one knee and four on the other). She spent two-thirds of life in the harsh conditions of sports discipline, the title of the best center of the World Cup 2010, sports clubs of America and China - it is difficult and honest life of basketball player Levchenko. And the endless fatty food of Sasha 3%, who can't do anything in life just because he was lazy to learn something. It is a primitive corruption and brains swamped by fat and impunity. The endless imperatives "give!", "kill!" and a complete inability to do anything on his own. So, did this second one intends to break the will of the first one in prison? He is an idiot...

I understand why it was ordered not to release Elena Levchenko after fifteen days, but to hold another detention and trial. First of all, they could not break her. She did not promise to join Belaya Rus and perform at the next women's forum with Baskov. Second, against the background of this two-meter-high beauty, Sasha looks like a caricature clumsy dead-head. This is undoubtedly a reason to take revenge on her. Third, all these years he has sincerely considered sportsmen his property: they perform under his red-green flag, win medals, fix the image ("the regime in Belarus may not be so terrible if there are such cool athletes and they have all the conditions to train...") and even some legitimacy: the countries he is banned to enter forever had to accept him as the head of the IOC. So, athletes were something like serfs for him. They were usually silent. However, they broke the silence. They took to the streets. They made posters "Athletes with people!" and "People are the champion!" It is a betrayal of him and treason to homeland. Levchenko, you go to jail! Gerasimenya, get out with your swimming school! Handball players, train in the backyard! Boxers, you stand in one line with Levchenko!

Sasha feels bad now. He is no longer able to see simple things. Not even simple, but primitive: sports is one of the key grounds for unity and dialogue in any country. A general and a soldier, an academician and a student, a banker and a schoolboy in ordinary life are infinitely far from each other. However, they stand together on a stadium, support their team, become like-minded people, chant the same phrase and jump in joy when the team wins.

Sports is connecting people. "Stand up for ours!" is a slogan for everyone. We admire our athletes, regardless of who we voted for and how many times we went to protests. We also protect them together. When one arrests them and tries under Lukashenka's cases, we cry out "The ref needs specs!" with all our ninety seven per cent. Finally, the whole world hears us.

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org