Belarus: Opposition's FAQ; Gay Belarus

Global Voices Online
Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The once very lively Belarusian flash mob LJ community - by_mob - is now rather sleepy (possibly, because it's summer). But it's not dead.

LJ user z-hunter, for example, has recently suggested to compile a list of 100 "frequently asked questions and answers" - about the opposition to Aleksandr Lukashenko's regime. Below is the translation of the pitch (RUS):

The fight against the System involves breaking through the information blockade. Many people, in our country and abroad, have no accesss to objective information and thus have no idea what the real situation is like. They form an incorrect view of the opposition, they don't understand the reasons of people's dissatisfaction with the current regime and its policies, they are not familiar with the alternative ways of development of the Belarusian society.

Lots of people would like to know what's going on and are, quite reasonably, asking the basic questions - Why are you against the current regime/Lukashenko? What does the opposition have to offer? Why do you need it: don't we have stability; aren't we flourishing? What ideas/ideals do you have to offer? How are you going to fight? Is it true that if the democrats come to power, they'd sell all factories for nothing to the West? Is it true that the nationalists would force everyone to learn Belarusian? Et cetera.

The people want to know. But often there are no convincing answers to these questions. And it's not surprising that these people think of the "opposition" as something incomprehensible, blurry and frightening, something not very trustworthy. Moreover, it's not surprising that the majority sees no difference between the official political opposition and the civil movements, and has no idea what it is and why. [...]

How can this be changed? The most important task of the civil network is spreading of the objective information. As members of this network, we have to give the people what they need - information. It is not always possible to explain everything in a comprehensive and orderly way, and it also gets tiresome to have to repeat the same things over and over again. So it has become important to create a LIST of frequently asked QUESTIONS and drawing up specific, clear, structurally connected ANSWERS. So that it was possible to link every specific question to a specific answer.

By the way, since these answers have already been given many times in various forums and discussions, perhaps it's not necessary to begin writing from scratch in many cases - it'll be enough to compile the already existing information.


This post draws only one comment - a link to a Ukrainian civil movement's site that has a FAQs section.

A discussion of the FAQ idea is taking place (RUS) at an opposition forum - but it's not too constructive: "As usual, we've turned it all into empty talk, have started posing questions to ourselves and then answering them ourselves, too, with various degrees of success," one forum member wrote.

To the question about the future parliament's make-up, another forum member wrote:

Nationalists from the [Belarusian People's Front] will sit in the parliament. And this is good, because they will at last make people speak the native language.

LJ user z-hunter quickly responded:

To make someone do somethings involves VIOLENCE. That's negative and isn't our method. Our princples are NON-VIOLENT action, and the most valued thing is FREEDOM.

As the Czechs say - You are as many times a man as the number of the foreign languages you know.

It's one's own business to decide in what language to think and to speak. Violent imposition only causes protest and prevents acceptance. So it won't be like this. There'll be propaganda of the national language and culture.


The brief entry posted by LJ user znicz right after the FAQs entry (two days later, on August 7) is nothing but an off-topic invitation (BEL) - but it has drawn 30 responses already:


Please visit a new Belarusian LJ community:

As in other former Soviet countries, homosexuality seems to be a sensitive issue in Belarus, for most of those 30 comments contain (rather harsh) declarations of the bloggers' (mainly negative) attitudes toward gays. They have nothing to do with Lukashenko's regime.

The very first posting (BEL) in the Gay Belarus community, however, is about politics - and about tolerance. Inspired by a recent homophobic TV program, the entry opens with a picture of a Belarus-made TV set tuned in to the state channel, BT: a car windshield wiper is attached to the screen - making it easier to spit at the TV (as the note at the bottom explains).


Did anyone count homosexuals and heterosexuals at [the camp at October Square in March 2006]? Did it occur to anyone that the whole spectrum of the human rainbow was represented in [the two Minsk prisons where the protesters were taken]? Is it possible to fight "FOR FREEDOM" of only those who are 100 percent "straight"?

[...] Is our return to Europe based on social values of the 16th century? And homophobia - is that the norm not just for the BT [state television], but a trait of the people's mentality, the people used to envying and hating the neighbor, and [...] to depriving themselves of the right to the language/culture/history ... sexuality.


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