Народная Воля (так!) October 8, 2005Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
On second thoughts, what I wrote in the early hours about Belarus’s last independent paper being shut down might have been hasty of me (even though the news was hardly fresh – slow out of the blocks as ever. I’ll be commenting on England winning the World Cup soon). They are certainly having distribution and printing problems, but it looks like they’re not giving up without a fight, and good for them for that reason alone. The press in Belarus needs whatever struggling rays of light it can get and not only because Lukashenka has a stranglehold over the country’s media but big brother next door tends to stick its oar in at vital times too. I was living in Russia before the last elections in 2001 and just days beforehand, Russian TV showed a puking, 6-hour-long (well, it seemed like that), prime-time, fly-on-the-wall documentary about good old Alex and what a diamond geezer he was, hunting, fishing and playing ice-hockey. The old sod might have lost a bit of favour in Moscow since then but I can hardly imagine Putin clamouring to support the opposition next year, an opposition that’s almost bound to favour closer ties with the west and a loosening of Russia’s influence (à la Yushchenko, in other words). Not that Belarusians have anything against Russia, of course, but it’s hard to see democracy flourishing if your only pal and mentor is Putin’s realm (OK, with Iran and North Korea as B-list mates).