Monday, February 12, 2007

Play with fire...

Belarusian State Pedagogical University in Minsk
I just had a glance at the TOL Blogs article by eolonir about a Mr. Yohan Ivenuk and a Ms. Natashia Samrej who were expelled ostensibly for political activity. The article quotes that both managed to get arrested at a December 22 political rally, and that both had lousy grades, which of course was the "official" reason of expulsion.

Now, I am not going to sit here and say I am not sympathetic about young people getting thrown out of University and the potential damage this does to their lives. But I am also not going to blindly agree that the blame necessarily has to go straight to the dictator.

Every single minor incident in the country these days seems to go straight to the opposition media and me, I think I wish to make a statement to the contrary for a change.

First of all, neither of these soon-to-be-sainted misguided youths was a poly-sci major were they? In other words, neither had apparently given any previous serious thought that the job of governing was in their future or that the ideas of how to govern were even worthy of their time as students. One was going to be an electrician, the other wanted to be a teacher.

But both of them, thinking only high thoughts about their motherland I am sure, attended a political rally. Good for them. GOOD FOR THEM! However, either because they planned in advance to do so, or because they were caught up in the emotions of such a thing, both insisted on making enough of a public fuss to get themselves arrested.

I am sorry of you don't like how I said that last bit, but it is a fact. Belarusian police are not arbitrarily grabbing strangers of the street and jailing them. This is not Poland. Politics here is a very sensitive business and both the culture and the regime rather prefer calm to havoc. Can't say as I blame them. And this goes especially for opposition folks. The government does not respect hysterical people screaming like animals and behaving as if they are out of their minds: Witness Kazoulin.

But let me explain a little something for you people out there who do not understand what the letters CCCP mean. That little 70-year "experiment" was brought about as a result of POLITICAL AGITATION on the part of the founding fathers including Lenin, Stolin, Trotsky, etc. That little business of overthrowing the Tzar was in fact a grass roots movement started and executed by street demonstrations. THE LESSONS LEARNED BY THE REVOLUTIONISTS THAT FOUNDED THE UNION WERE IN THE WEAKNESS OF THE TZAR IN FAILING TO ELIMINATE THEM- See If that thought doesn't explain Stalin a bit better.

Don't like it? Sorry.

This is Belarus. There are no Jessie "The Body" Venturas being elected to any offices here. Politics in Belarus is not a joke; dealing with people's lives is a DEADLY serious business and people who wish to personally enter into the arguments are taken seriously. The basic ethos of the Soviet Community was that street protests and political agitation were not nothing, it was something very real and very big. When a person makes a statement, it is not taken as humor but as a serious and potentially dangerous statement.

If these two armchair political enthusiasts decided to get authentic out there in the midst of all the excitement, well, they got what they asked for and their names were in fact duly registered in the book as being… ready for it… political agitators. And guess what? The state sponsored schools which provide free education to young citizens of the country don't want political agitators agitating politically while they are trying to give lessons in teaching theory and electronics.

Are we witnessing a repression? Yes, probably.

But folks, nobody got kicked out of school for going to the rally and listening to the speakers. Nobody gets arrested for having opinions to the contrary. But people do get arrested for trying to get arrested. And, if you get arrested in Belarus for being a political agitator, the powers that be can and will take this seriously and penalties can and will include asking people who wish to be against the state, to stop attending state sponsored schools.

And about where the state got the right to do this, well, 83% of everybody said here that they wanted to support the state. That is a big number. And in a former communist country what 83% means is that Belarus is together and wishes to stand together. For, not against; get it?

There is real history here and the idealism that was at the foundation of the extended community was something people were passionate about. Don't think that a little thing like 15 years of poverty have extinguished that flame. Play with fire, you get burned. Kazoulin screamed he hated Lukashenka and wanted to overthrow the government. He is in jail. This is Belarus. Perhaps, rather than being simply another cheap shot taken at the country's leader, this situation should be an advisor to people that they should show her a little respect rather than thinking of Belarus as something that can be had on a foolish whim.