22 January 2022, Saturday, 20:35
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Even If You Are a Dead Body or a Scarecrow

13
Even If You Are a Dead Body or a Scarecrow
IRYNA KHALIP

A cockroach race across Europe.

The Iraqi Kurds on the Belarusian-Polish border, trying to break into Europe at night, are mere infants compared to Lukashenka's officials and other functionaries. Migrants, at least, do not pretend they like everything at home. The extreme need drives them to Europe.

They are honest with the world and make no secret of the fact that they want to live in a welfare state where they can get an allowance and social housing. Good people around feel sympathy for them and change the laws, standards and dress codes to avoid infringing on political beliefs and religious sentiments. There is something to long for, something to fight for, something to freeze to death in the December woods on the Polish border.

It's a far cry from the domestic officials. It seems no tanks or a broom can drive them out of their home. In their homeland, their heart sings with joy, their mind works and their heart beats. If one deprives them of their native landscapes, their life hangs by a thread, until they come to their native feeding trough. Only a heavy day's work, a business trip imposed by their bosses, and self-sacrifice, which forces them to go to a foreign land for the sake of the State, can make them leave their native land. In reality, it is like the old anecdote: "You have to go, even if you are a dead body or a scarecrow". To slip in, grab a Polish fore knuckle and some Czech beer, Spanish ham and Greek retsina, party hard, feel like a free man for a day at least, not a slave, and know that the phone will not ring and no one will order you to show up for a flogging. This momentary feeling of freedom becomes a goal, and any functionary is ready to lurk abroad like a cockroach.

Speaking of cockroaches. Lukashenka was the first to realize the necessity of a "humanitarian corridor" back in the nineties. He must have realized that nobody would invite him to the meetings of the heads of the states after any referendum. He would never be recognized as an equal. So he invented the position of the head of the National Olympic Committee to travel to the civilized world at least under the Olympic flag. He rushed straight to Nagano, where he managed to make a "mistake" the very next day, having skied in someone else's rice paddy. The police kicked him out of the field. One could not kick him out of Japan until the very end of the Olympics. After all, it's the NOC; sports are the world.

Sports is not only the world but also, until recently, a great hole in the fence for the Lukashists. It is enough to get sucked into some sports federation and you are quite legitimate, with a Schengen visa in your pocket and the opportunity to travel around the world, and even at public expense. Hopefully, Bazanov's mishap will put an end to this bureaucratic shambles. No, of course, Bazanov stood firm. The Czech police offered him sandwiches, biscuits, coffee and tea, he refused everything. He said he was afraid they would add something "psychotronic". Czechs can do that. Then, they may spread a repentant video, where Bazanov says he watched an extremist Belarusian TV, lost his orientation and mistakenly joined the criminal and strongly regrets it. But the Czechs need neither such repentances nor Bazanov on their territory. "Lukashenka's friends and allies have no business in the Czech Republic", as the Minister of Foreign Affairs Jakub Kulhánek perfectly put it. The visa was cancelled and he was sent back home with a perfect diplomatic kick.

The story is remarkable and instructive. But first of all, not for officials, but Europe. The Lukashenka regime cannot change its ways: it will still flee from its homeland by any means. And there are still loopholes. And it is high time for the West to pay attention to them. UN. OSCE, WHO, IAEA, Interpol - any international organization can become a "roof" for hordes of cockroaches crawling out of armoured cracks here. Remember early 2012, when participants of the 2010 presidential election were jailed, Interior Minister Anatoly Kuleshov, who was involved in dispersing peaceful protests and the subsequent crackdown, was quietly drinking and eating in France. The French prosecutor's office then explained: there was nothing we could do because he had come through Interpol and had immunity. Yermoshina also made it to Europe through the OSCE. And now Makei is in Sweden through the same line. I hope the story with Bazanov will be the first but not the last one, and the annulled visas of the Belarusian cadres will soon be able to wrap up the globe.

My advice to the officials is as follows: better negotiate with the truck drivers, hide under the truck, and cross the border checkpoints. It would be much more reliable. If you get caught, well, as Bazanov's story shows, the policemen will not beat you up but offer you coffee and sandwiches. You'll survive somehow.

Iryna Khalip, specially for Charter97.org