8 August 2020, Saturday, 12:21
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Belarusians Are Geniuses of Solidarity

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Belarusians Are Geniuses of Solidarity
Iryna Khalip

When the whole country rises, Drazdy residents will escape.

At seven pm, the doors of a popular bar on Oktyabrskaya open and the company goes out. The guys start applauding. Andrei Tkachou, a beautiful giant and a famous fitness instructor, is among them.

Tkachou applauds not for his perfect abs or that his team again took many honours and titles, or a warm summer evening, or an orange mood that is "a bottle of kefir, a slice of bread..." Andrey Tkachou just participates in the solidarity flash mob that began three days ago.

After applauding, he wrote on Facebook: "We were very impressed by this idea of safe protest and solidarity. Every day start applauding at 7 pm, wherever you are. If you're driving then honk. It's a great feeling when passers-by start joining, people in neighbouring places, some people lean out of the windows and applaud as well". He is right. It feels great. It's like a huge city is suddenly inhabited not by strangers but friends and relatives and everyone is happy.

It's not even necessary to applaud and go outdoors. You can go out onto the balcony of your apartment or just open a window. One can play music or rattle pots. The main thing is to make noise. It's just two minutes every evening. It contributes to the level of emotional saturation as much as if you've been on vacation or at least at a concert of your favourite band. If you step out onto the balcony and hear a neighbour you never said hello to rattling pots, it feels like you found your twin brother you were separated with a long time ago in an old Indian movie.

It's not a big deal. Since Belarusians have recently proved themselves as geniuses of flash mobs, instant organization of common actions and solidarity. Sewing masks, dinners for doctors, the buy-in of personal protective equipment for hospitals came first. Belarusians self-organized at an incredible speed. All this was done contrary to the state. Doctors provided with masks and food by volunteers rescued people contrary to the state; it would be glad to decrease the number of unthankful population. Belarusians reached the height of their new potential by summer.

Then pickets for the signature collection began. People lined up in an organized way. Sasha took it as unauthorized mass events. Everybody knows worry gives a small thing a big shadow. In his nightmares, he saw participants of peaceful pickets with deadly slippers in their hands. The collection of signatures was still in progress, while two candidates had already ended up in prison. Street activists were detained as well and sentenced to 15 days of arrest. However, people were not scared either. They began to build up a chain of solidarity in all cities. They laughed, danced, sang songs, applauded. They are not afraid. It annoys both Sasha and his few comrades in dusty helmets. Paddy wagons drive over but nobody is scared.

Another great flashmob is ongoing for the last three days. Minskers come to support the symbal.by store, which is closing due to an attack of the state (they have not forgiven inscriptions on T-shirts). They make up a line in a disciplined manner. They introduce themselves, communicate, joke, take selfies. There is panic in Drazdy again. Paddy wagons are heading to the store. I wouldn't be surprised if on Wednesday night Sasha poured ammonia into the city's water supply system saying: "Do you like standing in lines? Well, stand in lines for water! Soon you'll line up for bread. I can organize it for you!"

But people immediately organized themselves and began to deliver water to hospitals and orphanages. Within a few minutes, they learned about the addresses of lonely pensioners who could not go for water. Again, the solidarity flash mob worked out. It happened without any leaders, engineers and PR specialists. After all, everybody is a leader now.

Of course, the Minister of Internal Affairs has already told the world that telegram channels and streams of Radio Svaboda control Belarusian flash mobs. I'm sure he believes in it. He can't even imagine that people can go out and build up a chain. Or organize the delivery of water to the needy. Or open windows and start rattling pots. That's impossible! Someone must lead them! It reminds me how having heard Sergey Kurekhin saying on Perestroika TV that Lenin was a mushroom and a radio wave controlled from Mexico, the Leningrad Communists of the eighties went to the Regional Committee to express their indignation: why did the Bolsheviks conceal that Lenin was a mushroom? They believed TV screens. So did Karayeu. He believes that telegram channels control flash mobs and Lenin is a mushroom.

Flash mob continues. In the daytime, we help relatives of political prisoners, doctors, and the elderly without water. We beat drums for two minutes, rattle pots for two minutes at 7 pm. When the whole country rises, Drazdy residents will escape.

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org

Belarusian bloggers and activists offered to hold the solidarity flash mob. It aims to support medical professionals who fight for our lives and the heroes who are now behind bars.

As a sign of solidarity, we open windows of apartments, step out onto balconies, applaud, rattle pots or play music every day at 7 pm since June 23.