Europe’s Lonley Heart

Speaking of Belarus, there’s a revealing article in TCS today about the political modus operandi there that is increasingly reminiscent of the U.S.S.R. The writer, Anna Volk (undoubtedly a pseudonym, since she’s writing such a bold piece from within Belarus), describes some of the current goings on:

[The Belarusian president], first of all, is trying to strengthen his personal control over everything that happens in this country. Belarus is the only ex-Soviet country in which the KGB still exists. Last July Belarus adopted a law which foresees the inculcation of the Special Forces collaborators into private enterprises under cover of ordinary employment. Moreover, the KGB is given the right to enter any premises by breaking locks, and the prosecutor’s sanction can be received within the next 24 hours.

There’s more. [The Belarusian president] is trying to isolate not only the country as a whole, but also a specific group: the nomenklatura, the state bureaucracy. A month ago he decreed that public officials in Belarus can go abroad only with the president’s consent and for no longer than two days. The Belarusian leader has instructed officials to cut their travel abroad to a minimum.

He is also telling students to stick to their textbooks and keep out of politics. All educational establishments in Belarus have been provided with instructions for how to prevent students from being involved in unlawful activity of a political nature. School and university teachers are strictly prohibited from talking about the political situation in the country with students. From now on, students engaged in opposition activities will be monitored even more closely. A number of active students have already been expelled from the universities.

None of this is surprising if you’ve even remotely kept up with happenings in Belarus in the past ten years. There will be an “election” this year in Belarus which looks sure to be an easy victory for the current regime. Then again, stranger things have happened…