22 January 2022, Saturday, 20:36
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Gavrila Served as Mother Superior

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Gavrila Served as Mother Superior
Iryna Khalip

A mobile mass grave for the regime.

Recent events no longer look like tragedy or even farce. It is buffoonery, theatre of the absurd, Down House, rhinos on the stage. There's the feeling the stage will fall down with the actors right after the play. The final thing for us to do is to jostle a little in the cloakroom, taking our coats. Such performances happen only when the curtain falls.

See it. A lukashist has denounced lukashists and sits on the dock. What could be better? Pure Schwartz or Dragon: "Snitching on me. Intrigues against oneself to seize one's place." In our latitudes, it looks as follows: a resident of Dobrush saw a red-and-white tent erected by the staff of the local military enlistment office. While the military were having a cultural rest in the countryside, a woman took a video of the tent and uploaded it to the Net, calling military enlistment officers "bchbshniki" (those against the blue-fingered dictator). However, the officers decided to file a complaint. "She slandered us", they said. The author of the video couldn't get how it could be. She has been voting for Lukashenka all her life, dyes her fingers blue as a sign of solidarity, takes care of her dear homeland, and now she is so disappointed - two years of "home arrest" for vigilance. One could quote a great line of the relentless journalist Arkady Babchenko: "The motherland will abandon you, daughter". However, everything in the story is remarkably harmonious without the line. One could put it in the pre-conscription military training textbooks.

And the staging of Tiel in Vitebsk? This story begs to be a new play. After all, the genre "theatre in theatre" has been popular since Shakespeare's time. They were preparing for the premiere, staging a classic - a play by Grigory Gorin based on the novel by Charles de Koster. This play was staged in the USSR back in the seventies. The repertoire unit was tested by the Brezhnev Art Council. It seemed to be one hundred per cent reliable. Translated into Belarusian, it premiered. The Ministry of Culture officials arrived, applauded in the director's box, handed out awards and immediately banned the performance. Because "long live Flanders!" can only be translated from Russian as "zhyve Flandrya!" That's it: the show is on the shelf, the director is fired, and the troupe should better be dissolved. By the way, maybe some part of the troupe will remain. The best ideological minds are now thinking about that. Meantime, the director has already been kicked out of the theatre for political short-sightedness. And there is one more pirouette of our amazing theatre of the absurd: that unlucky theatre director was the former ideologist at Belshina, Aliaksandr Starykh. Bloody Flemish, they caught up with him after all. To be ideologically in charge of the rubber at Belshina was more understandable and pleasant.

Or, for example, Mother Superior Gavriila is a caricature without any additional touches. She arrives at a logistics centre full of migrants and wanders and bless them. A year ago, she used to call this very "zhyve!" a devilish shouting, but now she wanders among Muslims and blesses them. The migrants have probably seen a lot during their journey, so they are not surprised. If following Gavriila, a snake tamer or a sword swallower would come to the logistics centre, the reaction would be identical. These characters are of the same synonymical line for them. But we see Mother Superior on TV. People, however, are having fun and are composing a sequel to "Gavriliada" by Nikifor, Liapis-Trubetskoy: "Gavrila served as Mother Superior, Gavrila blessed others". Can a nation that laughs like this fail to win?

The 26th of November is Gomel Liberation Day. This year, one celebrates it in a particularly creative, non-standard and original way. A mobile mass grave is brought to schools. In the middle of a star made of papier-mache, an orange light bulb symbolizing the Eternal Flame is placed. Children are dressed up in Soviet military uniforms and forced to lay flowers at the orange light bulb. Neither Gorin, nor Schwartz, nor even Brecht can beat it hollow.

The regime will be buried in this mobile grave. And millions of Belarusians will line up to it not to pay their tribute but to make sure that it has finally started fulfilling its utilitarian function.

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org