[Marxism] Belarus under seige
avvakum at gmail.com
Mon Jul 11 17:22:34 MDT 2011
I'd like to echo the comments made by Louis and Sergii.
What friend of the Belarusian people Michele Brand either doesn't know
or pretends not to know is that charging protesters with "shouting
profanities" is standard police state practice in Russia and Belarus.
It's what the police do when protesters are visibly not violating any
laws but have to be punished for the sheer temerity of appearing in
public and (even silently) indicating they're slightly upset with the
earthly paradises established by Lukashenko and Putin. Once you've
charged them with "shouting profanities," it's simpler than falling
off a chair to get a compliant judge to send the "offenders" to jail
for ten or fifteen days to cool off and think about whether they want
to persist in their stubbornness.
In that vein, here's a touching eyewitness account by a man in Minsk
about how his two daughters and his son-in-law became enemies of the
state when they decided to go grocery shopping at the wrong time in
the wrong place. The translation is a bit rough, but I think you'll
get the drift:
Given Brand's bottomless confidence in the Belarusian authorities,
it's no wonder she shows not the slightest skepticism when they feed
her the lines about seizing shipments of "metal rods, grenades,
knives, guns, and explosives" at the border or "the large group of
well-prepared individuals" who tried to "forcibly enter" the main
government building in central Minsk. Most of the accounts I've read
claim that these "well-prepared individuals" were KGB or riot police
in plain clothes.
Apparently, it's this same trust in the official version of events
that causes Brand to severely deflate the number of protesters on
election night from 40,000 (the figure cited in most accounts I've
read) to 7,000.
Since she's prepared to accept all this baloney, she has no choice but
to call the response of the authorities to the election night protests
and their crackdown on the opposition "restrained." Again, everything
I've read or heard from people in Belarus suggests that the opposite
is the case.
I'm also puzzled by Brand's strange mixture of condescension towards
Belarusians and her trumpeting of their high standard of living. On
the one hand, she boasts of their "cosmopolitan way of life." On the
other hand, we're meant to think that they're too stupid or
impoverished to set up web sites or use Facebook without generous help
and encouragement from Hilary Clinton.
On that note, some of you might be interested to learn that you can
send postcards to some of the beneficiaries of the "restrained"
treatment of the Belarusian KGB via this Hilary Clinton-sponsored web
I've also just learned from a Belarusian acquaintance about another
Hilary Clinton-sponsored campaign called "Guardian Angel." Apparently,
the "restraint" shown by the Belarusian police is so overwhelming that
hundreds of people -- participants in the new wave of silent protests
or just unfortunate fresh tomato eaters like the family of the man
whose testimony I've linked to above -- are now mysteriously ending up
in jail. The gist of the program is that Belarusians are being asked
to choose and sponsor one of the "restrained," to let them know
they're not alone:
Unfortunately, this site is only in Russian. If anyone here knows
Michele Brand personally, they might want to pass this address along
to her. I'm sure she'll be able to read the site's undoubtedly
wrongheaded appeal, because her article has all the hallmarks of a
fluent speaker of Russian -- not someone regurgitating the spiel
delivered by her state-sponsored interpreters.
Speaking of those dastardly Russians, if Brand thinks that Russian
"destabilization" of Belarusian sovereignty is something "new," then
she apparently hasn't heard of the "gas wars" of recent years or all
the other little contretemps in the history of the "Union of Belarus
and Russia," which date back to the Yeltsin era.
Finally, I'm glad that Brand notes that the CIS observers "reported
they witnessed a fair election." Since this is what they always
("predictably") report, there is no reason to believe it wasn't true
this time round, either. But this hard fact of life puts me in
something of a pickle because somehow literally everyone I know in
Russia is certain that the upcoming parliamentary and presidential
elections here in Russia will be rigged. On the other hand, I know in
advance that the CIS observers will report they "witnessed a fair
election." So my question is this: should I try to distract my friends
and acquaintances with some fresh tomatoes before they begin shipping
knives and grenades across the border or (God forbid) start talking
about this alleged vote rigging on Facebook?
P.S. Did anyone notice Brand's reference in her article to "a number
of international observers of that election who affirm that they saw
no fraud or irregularities" is linked to this article (also on
Counterpunch) by Israel Shamir?
Aside from the dubiousness of the article itself (which reads like a
parody -- are there actual editors at Counterpunch?), it's possibly
relevant that international man of mystery Shamir has been accused of
passing Wikileaked cables directly to Lukashenko -- and this hard on
the heels of his having been accused of simply making up cables that
were published in a Russian news weekly:
Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times alleged that Shamir
concocted a cable which allegedly quoted European Union diplomats'
plans to walk out of the Durban II speech by Iranian president Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, for publication in the pro-Putin Russian Reporter in
December 2010, an accusation which was rejected by Shamir.
Shamir has also been accused of passing "sensitive cables" to the
president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. Index on Censorship has
expressed concern that such an event could physically endanger
Lukashenko's political opponents; Wikileaks has refused to reply to
Index on the issue, although one Wikileaks representative called
Shamir's alleged leaks "obviously unapproved."
> From: Sergii Kutnii <mnkutster at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [Marxism] Belarus under seige
> The article is TOTAL BULLSHIT.
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