...Belarus' police force is familiar with the Zen koan, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"
It appears that Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko – faced with growing public demands that he naff off after 17 years at the helm of the former Soviet republic – is determined to go out in comedy gold style. Alexander Lukashenko According to this report, cops loyal to "Europe's last dictator" (pictured) have been …
How do you manage to pluck from a street protest (which presumably has a largish number of people) the guy with one arm and a deaf-mute? Seriously, this reads like a Rowan Atkinson sketch.
* awaits reports of charges of "wearing a loud shirt in a built up area", "walking on the cracks in the pavement" and the current favourite, "looking at me in a funny way" *
Not that I have a slightest sympathy for Lukashenko - I most definitely don´t.
However, crap like this, making Russians look like benevolent and tolerant chaps in comparison, actually makes me wonder, how much of this is caused by direct orders from Lukashenko, and how many of it is work of overzealous bureaucratic drones, who knows, what is best for His Presidentnees, better than president himself.
Just extrapolating from similar cases in history of my own country, mind you.
This might be totally in line with Luhashenko´s orders...
I have no doubt that Lukashenko has the powers of clemency for this hapless handless clapper. It would be cheap PR to give a pardon. It would also be a nice and reasonable thing to do. It would even be _gracious_, for old-fashioned royalist meaning of the word "grace" - "grace of the king", y'know.
But people don't become dictators by being nice, reasonable or gracious, but by being nasty bastards. In this occasion, I could see Medvedev giving a pardon - and possibly even Putin, were he president again (given a few snickerings from foreigners to gibe him into action).
But Luhashenko seems too small minded and stubborn to take the hint. There's too much of the "pocket Hitler" about him, to use an old British WWII term for petty authoritarian officials of the time. God designed him to be one of life's bus-ticket inspectors, but Satan gave him Belarus instead.
I was just reading in the UK newspapers about the fines and stuff for the student loans protesters. That'll teach them to make a noise.
As ever, its only bad if its their guy that's doing it. If its our guy then they're just preserving Peace and Freedom.
As for the change in politicians I think we're all past this now -- we now know for sure that no matter who we vote for, the (same) government always gets in. Places like Belarus and Syria are just more honest about it.
There is indeed a huge difference between unreasonable public nuisance fines, and 'Arrested for something obviously physically impossible and convicted by a judge who can see that but is intimidated by officers in the room'.
They are orders of magnitude different, and this is actually an excellent counterpoint to the arms-flailing "We're no better than..." hysteria that is often seen.
Pretending that things in the euro-zone / usa/canada are just as bad as in autocracy X only hurts the ability to fight real injustice, since people just look at web sites or comments and think, 'This is like Nazi Germany? Funny, I didn't think that gay Jews could get married there...." and dismiss claims of problems as melodrama.
As a fellow moustache user I resent your allegation that the Lukashenko dies his moustache but also that doing so should constitute an offence at law.
First they came for the moustache wearers,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a moustache wearer.
Next they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
With apologies to Martin Niemöller
And dear Lester Haines, can I remind you that "A kiss without a moustache is like an egg without salt" - as you'll find out if you get your girlfriend to shave hers off.
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