Mortal Combat in Belarus: Lukashenko vs Coronavirus
Der belarusian President leaves it to orthodox priests und the KGB to fight the epidemic. The people are getting more and more upset because the government can no longer hide the dramatic situation.
Belarus has been to the edge of the precipice, and I helped it take a step forward.
Alexander Lukashenko (extracted from his speech)
Alexander Lukashenko has apparently always truly believed that he is chosen by God. The boy who was born without a father in a very small Belarusian patriarchal village wanted to imagine himself a kind of Jesus who saves the “God-chosen” Belarus from the World’s evil. Back in 1996 on orthodox Easter, when people shouted in the church the traditional greeting “Jesus resurrected!” (to which must be answered “Truly, He has risen!”) Lukashenko bowed in response with his hands on his heart and quite sincerely thanked: “Thank you, thank you!”. Over the years, the belief in his divine origin has only grown. When the rain began after a severe drought in 2000, Alexander Lukashenko blindsided the Belarusians with a statement: “Belarusians, you asked me for rain — I gave you rain.” Officials actively played along with Lukashenko: for instance, Konstantin Sumar the chairman of the regional executive committee from 2004 to 2014 explained the subordination at a meeting during agricultural work in 2004: “Alexander Lukashenko, you are slightly above God.”
It is not surprising that the “God-chosen” Alexander Lukashenko took the coronavirus not serious, explaining to the frightened population: “The Lord must protect Belarus from the coronavirus! We have already lost a lot of population, every third Belarusian died in World War II, the country was wiped off the face of the earth, many people came back from the war crippled.”
Relics, holy water and prayers against the corona virus
Therefore, the authorities mobilized, in particular, orthodox priests to fight against the coronavirus. As early as March 1, 2020, orthodox priests carried the relics of the martyr Konstantin Zhdanov to institutions and enterprises of Novopolotsk which people have kissed massively thus causing an outbreak of coronavirus in Novopolotsk.
And on March 22, 2020, orthodox priests applied more serious technologies — they sprinkled the capital of Minsk with holy water from an helicopter. Pavel, the Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavsky and the Patriarchal Exarch of Belarus, personally led this “operation”.
Apparently, this did not help as well, and then on April 2, 2020 representatives of the Belarusian Orthodox Church flew on a plane along the borders of Belarus with copies of the shrines — with the cross of Euphrosyne of Polotsk and the icon of Divine Mother Zhirovich as well as with a pectoral cross and a prayer to stop the spread of coronavirus infection. The flight took more than four hours. The three largest cities of the Vitebsk region did not fall inside the perimeter of that flight, but perhaps there was a reliance on holy relics as well. And also the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant which is under construction in Astravets close the Lithuanian border didn’t fall into the perimeter, because even representatives of God can’t get close to Belarusian strategic facilities.
However, flying around Belarus turned out to be embarrassing: the priests rented for the flight a plane called “Pilate”. As we already joked in social networks, “the head of the Orthodox Church of Belarus made an ‘air cross procession’ on the plane, named after the person who crucified the Christ on the cross!”
The church did not stop there: From April 4, 2020, until the end of the epidemic, the Orthodox Church will make twelfe rings at the large bell of its churches four times a day, after this all bells will be ringing for ten minutes. During the ringing time, priests will offer a prayer for ending the coronavirus infection.
Officials say it’s ‘pneumonia’
However, as they say in Belarus, “Pray to God, but row for shore.” Therefore, authority uses human methods — intimidation of people who can tell the truth along with divine and ordinary. Doctors are forced to sign a “non-disclosure of confidentiality” paper, and the KGB and other law enforcement agencies threaten to initiate criminal cases if information about coronavirus patients comes to public. There has been a wave of serious repression against bloggers and journalists, especially YouTube bloggers. The Belarusian Ministry of Health publishes statistics that cause hysterical laughter of the people because it is clear that these figures have nothing to do with reality.
Things happend in the city of Vitebsk triggered first outrage among the people. A group of people close to the Vitebsk oligarch Nikolai Martynov, who visited Milan and the surrounding area during fashion days brought coronavirus from Italy to the city exactly by March 1, 2020. While they were feeling well, they were actively meeting with senior-level management of the region and other business leaders, with relatives, giving Italian gifts, going to the theatre, and when they were obviously sick, the heads of medical institutions themselves rushed to serve them due to their high status.
Super-spreaders caused a super outbreak of the disease, including among doctors, although officially all of them, of course, suffer from ‘pneumonia’. Nikolai Martynov has been in intensive care with the serious condition breathing with ventilator since March 9, 2020. It seems that an unplanned situation is happening in the city — under the coronavirus, or according to the authorities — “under pneumonia”, they are giving for use more and more new hospitals and parts of hospitals. Five medical institutions re-profiled for the reception of the infected people. Life support devices can be counted on the fingers, even volunteers try to deliver them and other means. Everything is filled with patients — even the “psychiatric hospital” and the tuberculosis dispensary. In fact, only the regional hospital remained an ordinary hospital in the city, where they still treat patients with other diseases, but, apparently, there’s not much time left to utilize it too. Some of the “suspects” were even sent in the countryside to Krupenino, where the president’s fashionable summer cottage is located, in which he and his guests, such as Vladimir Putin, sometimes live during the “Slavyansky bazaar” festival in Vitebsk in the summer.
Vitebsk Regional Clinical Hospital announced a public tender for the purchase of body airtight bags, and volunteers across Belarus massively sew masks and collect funds for doctors. Masks and personal protective equipment are not enough.
Following Vitebsk, the whole of Belarus begins to rage. Information about the cases is streaming, people believe rumours, but do not believe officialdom. In a number of small towns, there are no longer enough places for coronavirus patients; they are being taken to large cities.
Intimidation by the KGB
People, frightened by the police, the KGB and other departments, were silent for two weeks. But in the end, there were so many sick with “pneumonia” that it was no longer possible to hide. In the beginning, the KGB was appaerentyl able to intimidate the husband of the 58-year-old Tatyana Khuzeeva, first known who died from “pneumonia”. She was buried in a closed coffin which is against the tradition. It was prohibited to invite anyone to a funeral. The relatives complained to independent journalists about the inability to “bury her humanly” and speculated about the coronavirus since they were tested and put in quarantine.
On March 21, 2020, Alexander Lukashenko instructed KGB chairman Valery Vakulchik to “deal roughly with villains who throw up fakes about COVID-19”. In response, independent media published transcripts of the interviews with the relatives of the deceased woman, proving the veracity of the initially presented information. However, the Ministry of Health has publicly stated that the woman did not die of the coronavirus. Then the husband of the deceased suddenly became confused, “forgot” the date of hospitalization of his wife, and “remembered” that the coffin was open after all. Our experience shows that when relatives so abruptly change their testimonies, especially, at the background of Lukashenko’s threats of “to deal roughly”, it means that they’ve already “dealt with” them. There are other unofficial testimonies of people in hospitals about the intimidation of them and their relatives by the KGB.
The repressive machine begins to malfunction
Now there are more and more dead people, and the voices of indignant relatives are getting louder. Doctors and even representatives of the power unit began to die. The repressive machine begins to malfunction. The doctor of the Vitebsk emergency hospital Natalia Larionova, who was the first of the doctors to voice what was happening in the hospitals of Vitebsk under her name, was called to the prosecutor’s office. Usually, such calls end with a prosecutor’s warning and threats of further repression, but the prosecutor’s office refused to issue any prosecutor’s warnings and even threats of future repression did not sound regarding the doctor, which is very unusual for Belarus.
Alexander Lukashenko comments on every official death from a coronavirus in Belarus by insulting and humiliating dead people. He did not express a single word of condolences to people who died from coronavirus and their families, but, on the contrary, accuses them of spoiling his statistics with their deaths: “How can one live? 135 kg of weight! (reagrding another person who died of coronavirus) The heart almost does not work, this hurts, that hurts, a whole bunch of diseases.” Lukashenko called the well-respected actor Viktor Dashkevich, who died in Vitebsk, a “poor fellow” who for some reason “walks along the street, and also works.” But the 75-year-old actor was forced to work because the Vitebsk Theatre was not quarantined by the authorities. By the way, the theatre is still open.
People were especially outraged that Alexander Lukashenko did not find kind and sympathetic words to people who died from the coronavirus, however there were kind, affectionate and admiring words addressed to young goats who were just born at the president’s personal farm. Alexander Lukashenko declared goats to be “the best cure for coronavirus” after vodka, sauna and tractor. Subsequently, he added to the “medicine list against the virus” — “to breathe smoke and a burning campfire”.
A massive internet meme is speading in Belarus under the hashtag “last word of the president”. People write deprecative obituaries to themselves, trying to suggest how Lukashenko would have insulted them if they would have die from coronavirus.
But the phrase “the last word of the president” has another meaning. The last word before farewell, before leaving.
It seems that Belarus is finally starting to say goodbye to its first president.
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