Year of 2004: what is in Belarus now?

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I am belarussian. Last 4 years I live in California. Some horrible events which happened to me in Belarus have been faded out, some – forgotten. Here, in U.S. I have different life. I have possibility to work, and to grow professionally, I can pay attention to my family and my health. But this is not the reason why I do not want to come back to Belarus. The reason is I am afraid. As everybody in Minsk - Belarussian capital - afraid to openly say a word against authorities, afraid to wear white-red-white something – symbol of independent Republic of Belarus, and also the symbol of opposition, and even afraid to speak Belarussian (officials speak Russian only). All these things are not forbidden oficially, but are signals of your “undermining” point of view. And you will be charged for that.

My relatives live in Belarus... My brother was kicked off from university because he visited U.S. and could not return in time to the beginning of semester. My mother is afraid to speak about officials, about president of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko, and his marionette government over by telephone. She feels pressure. Indeed, it is a constant pressure, and atmosphere of fear in Belarus for everybody including officials themselves: presidential mafia is extremely strong and controls all aspects of life, professional and personal.

Speaking of phone calls: the cheapest cost of one minute of call from U.S. to Belarus is about 30 cents, because of the government's control over telecommunication business in Belarus (for comparision: phone call with Moscow can cost 4 cents per minute only). The minimum wage is about $40 in Belarus. People are extremely poor there. And there is no hope for better life. People there do not believe in better life and afraid to step forward against officials. But there is still strong belief in president Lukashenko. It’s always been in countryside. There is no opposition or even alternative in some kind TV channels or radio programs there. And for many the president Lukashenko is not a dictator, but a savior of Belarus. I know some guys who won U.S. green card, used to live in province of Belarus, moved in California, and they believe in Lukashenko. People believe in him – he is a gifted politician and speaker. And everybody pays him – he is a reputable and authoritative mafia leader. In fact these are the reasons why he rules Belarus. And he will be.

I would like to quote some lines from american friend of mine who is trying to establish business with Belarus. He has some ideas which I do not quite understand how they going to work in Belarus. Anyway here is his website and below are some lines from his letters I have got recently:


...Hopefully I did not tell you of the news broadcasts about Belarus.

I watch the 24 hour international broadcasts.

First of all:
Belarus is known as the 'black hole' of Europe.

President Lukoshenko's term of office is over. Look to see the opposition candidates disappear.

This morning on Monday on the international, 24-hr news channel there was a note about Belarus.
They explained that the Belarus customs has a thriving business in confiscated goods at the border. They have even a private store with the good for sale. The reporter carried a concealed camera in the store to show what was for sale. One is not allowed to bring a camera into the store.

They told of a story of a German man waiting at the border to leave Belarus in his BMW car. It was said that the customs detained him until the visa expired and then confiscated his car! Well this gentleman, not taking the event as final, went to the newspaper across the border and told his story. Well, it was well broadcast into Belarus. Evidently due to some type of pressure... the car was recently returned to him.
They called Belarus the 'blackhole' of Europe, which I was surprised. But I guess with a 'dictator' in charge that eliminated his competition and abolished the constitution, they may be right. (Hope the KBG) is not ease dropping.

Belarus tapped into the Russian gas line going across Belarus. When the Russians found out, they shut off the flow of a natural gas to Belarus...

Your friend

Joe "

I am not trying to make some conclusions. I understand a little in big politics. I am just telling you what Belarus is now in my life.

Pictures from the official "Site of the President of the Republic of Belarus"

Pictures from oppositional
The text and who were signed the Charter-97 manifesto read here.

6/24/2004, Belmont, California

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