17 October 2021, Sunday, 11:27
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For Bendums and Twistums

20
For Bendums and Twistums

Silent sabotage is the perfect form of strike for an official.

There is a well-known and apt expression: "spoiled his obituary". One means a person in power who has done something publicly heinous. All Belarusian officials have reconciled themselves to their spoiled obituaries - "it happened. Well, you should understand". But it turns out that one can remain without any obituary at all. To disappear without a trace is much scarier.

Last week, Natalia Repnikova, the judge of Moscow's Simonovsky district court who commuted Alexei Navalny's suspended sentence to a real one, died in Russia. Yes, Navalny's conviction was delivered in the Kremlin, not in the district court. Putin is not the one who announces the verdicts and signs them. Like all KGB officers, he prefers not to leave any traces. At least, not in writing. All papers are signed by the servants, just like we have here. Natalia Repnikova's pen stroke sent Navalny to prison.

Repnikova was 50 years old. She had no intention of dying. She might have hoped that by the time she retired, Navalny's conviction would have been completely forgotten, like her last name. On the other hand, the various financial and non-financial rewards received from the leadership for her obedience and readiness to carry out any orders would have allowed her to enjoy a comfortable retirement without any regrets. However, it didn't happen. The story is instructive: no one at the top of the government even remembered the executive and reliable judge Repnikova. No one shed a tear, tilted a hat at the funeral, or sent a wreath "From the grateful president of Russia". Only the website of the court posted a press release: "Repnikova N.V. has been expelled due to her death."

That's it. Expelled as a negligent student. She won't be of any use anymore, so there's no sense in wasting time on mourning. But you, Bendums and Twistums of the Belarusian regime, will find it useful to think about Repnikova. The very same line may await you. No obituary, no wreath, no state funeral and no care for the family.

All of you, like that judge, hope that you will live happily ever after. I, by the way, sincerely wish everyone, even scoundrels, a long life (scoundrels should have enough time to serve their sentences). But the reality is that covid, heart attacks, strokes and the rest still exist. Even the ruddy Repnikova could have confirmed it. So, if something happens to any of the today's Bendums of the Belarusian regime, there will be no obituaries, wreaths, orders, and Lukashenka weeping over one's coffin. There will only be a record in one's employment book: "Dismissed due to death". By the way, the very employment book will be disposed in the nearest garbage dump, because no one ever needs it again. So the glorious career will end in a dumpster.

I know it is useless to appeal to the conscience of the current Bendums and Twistums: everyone who wanted to stay in harmony quit their jobs last autumn. There are people left who in principle cannot say "no" to bosses of any level and for whom conscience is an abstraction from children's books. But there is hope for them too.

If you do not want to resign, if you are scared or used to the nomenclature's benefits, if you do not know how to do anything but obey, there is still a way out. Go on strike. A quiet, creeping, work-to-rule strike. No slogans or declarations are needed. Just bring your bureaucratic machine to perfection, turn it into a Perpetuum mobile. Send cases back for revision if you are a judge or prosecutor (in any case, there is always a wrong scribble). If you are an investigator, delay the investigation, give operatives unexecutable assignments, look for non-existent witnesses, deliberately misspell cases to get them back. If you are an executive committee or any other functionary at any level - find bureaucratic reasons not to fulfil any orders and instructions (these reasons will be found, you only need to pay attention to the regulatory framework. Its stupidity always serves as a chance to escape). Arrange a document exchange, the circulation of papers in nature, for them to fly around without settling for a long time on any desk. It seems that everyone is busy, even broke into a sweat from the strain of labour - and yet no one does anything. And, most importantly, no one is doing anything wrong. Silent sabotage is an ideal compromise form of strike for an official. In the future, it will be a ground for a pardon.

So, memento Repnikova, and onward to the victory of bureaucracy. And let chaos reign in the bureaucratic offices.

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org