12 June 2024, Wednesday, 22:43
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They Will Get You Anyway

34
They Will Get You Anyway
IRYNA KHALIP

Harauski could have quietly gone to a Swiss prison.

Now run, Harauski. Ready, steady, Go!

God, what a fool you are. You had a chance — such a luxurious, wonderful, brilliant, unique chance that not everyone gets. You could have quietly gone to a Swiss prison and spent a couple of years there, or even a year. In excellent conditions: in a Swiss prison, a prisoner is entitled to a ten-meter cell plus a separate bathroom, TV, wardrobe and bookshelves, and even a computer, if you’re lucky. I would live for myself and not bother. And then he would go out — seemingly with a clear conscience. Served, redeemed, free. Nothing you can pin on, either with an English pin or an ordinary one.

All that was needed was not to lie, not to deceive. Not to tell in an interview with Deutsche Welle how you, with an air of big importance, handed the shooting pistol to Dzmitry Paulichenka (the one handing the pistol is actually number two in the squadron, right?), and in court — that you just stood next to Paulichenka and didn’t touch the pistol. Figure out in advance what to say and not deviate from a single word or sound. Stand your ground no matter what the prosecutor asks. Get your “two-year stay”, go to a warm, comfortable Swiss prison, where no one will bother you, because there are guards, bars and other attributes of isolation. And at the very moment when in Belarus prisoners are sewing mittens and standing for hours in the cold for yet another roll call, you could be switching TV channels in search of an interesting series, eating risotto or fresh fish and, of course, planning a short vacation, which is provided to prisoners in Swiss prisons. And no worries.

Now run, Harauski, because nothing is over for you — everything is just beginning. Human rights activists from the International Federation of Human Rights told how their colleagues hired a private investigator to establish your whereabouts and submit an application to the prosecutor’s office “at your place of registration.” And if it turned out to be so easy to establish, do you really think that others won’t find you? And I, of course, do not mean the relatives of the murdered. Of course, Iryna Krasouskaya and Zinaida Hanchar will not fly as enraged Erinyes to Switzerland to avenge their husbands. I’m not talking about them at all — I’m talking about those with whom you served in that very squadron and who might not at all like what you told the prosecutor and the judge. Moreover, new names made their way through the confusion, like a certain Colonel Smirnou, who offered to monitor the unit’s fighters. You seemed very nervous, Harauski, when they asked you about Smirnou. You said that you had asked not to make this information public. Won't Citizen Smirnou be angry because you told about him? And the mysterious curator who took you to Europe? What about the colleagues whose names you mentioned, but disowned them because you were honest and decent and were just passing by?

No, you’d better run now, Harauski. Run through Swiss meadows with edelweiss, enjoy the Alps, throw a coin into Lake Geneva as you run. Look, who's waving his hand over there from the hill? This is Yury Zakharanka, your police general. A handsome, intelligent serviceman — a rare combination. He looks with a narrowed eye, smiles — it doesn’t hurt for him anymore, he has forgiven. He knows better than anyone what kind of scoundrels were accepted into service in the special forces, he has no complaints.

And who has lit the fire there, near the lake? This is Viktar Hanchar, a man-encyclopedist, a prodigy, who knows about law even what the compilers of textbooks for future lawyers do not know. Light-hearted, witty, fair, ready to defend fair elections and justice at the cost of his own life. Relax, Harauski, he won’t notice you anyway. The likes of you can only be examined under a microscope.

Moreover, his long-time friend, Anatol Krasouski, is already rushing to join him at the bonfire from around the corner. He was a teacher of physics and astronomy. And then he published books and magazines. He also gave money to a children’s fund, the Biarezinski Nature Reserve, and many more people and organizations that we will never know about, because Krasouski never advertised his charity and never portrayed himself as a philanthropist. He sees you and passes by indifferently. He forgot you.

But you remember them, don’t you? Of course you remember. So run, Harauski, until the end of your days. Run from ghosts, from former colleagues, from the mysterious Colonel Smirnou, from the future of Belarusian justice. But remember: someone will get you anyway. Better the ghosts.

Iryna Khalip, exclusively for Charter97.org

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