Mortal Combat in Belarus: Lukashenko vs Coro­n­avirus

Pres­i­dent Lukashenka rec­om­mends vodka, sauna und camp­fire smoke against the coro­n­avirus. Foto: exsi­len­t­root /​ Shutterstock.com

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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