No cockroaches will save one member of their squad.
I don't know whether Lukashenka's white spitz really fell victim to sheepdogs at the West-2021 exercise or whether it was someone's prank. It does not matter at all whether it was news or a bad joke. It is not about the fate of the dog but the reaction of society.
Belarusians always respond to every appeal on social networks about an injured cat or dog, quickly raise money for the veterinary clinic, look for a house or foster home, buy food and medicine, and, most importantly, empathize, feel compassion. However, on Wednesday, when news broke that Umka (the spitz) might have been bitten to death by sheepdogs during a training exercise, no one felt pity for the poor white dog. People were only discussing one thing: is it true or gossip. If it's true, what kind of idiot would let a decorative dog walk among watchdogs. This reaction is the final failure of a big expensive long-term PR campaign called "Lukashenka is also a human". It failed. The effort was wasted.
At first, his son Kolya had to cope with the task of giving Lukashenka at least some human features. For this purpose, he has always been standing in front of his father since kindergarten. The people around were amused: he is a single father, there is nobody to leave his child with, and yet he takes him both to work and to business trips, and sits him down at the table with the government. Well done. He's a good and responsible daddy. They fought for ten years for public opinion but failed. The boy next to his father at first caused bewilderment, then irritation, with all his gold pistols and jackets which cost an average Belarusian family a year. And then Nikolai grew up and had to urgently look for a replacement.
Perhaps, Massandra at the time just remembered the school literature syllabus - The Lady with the Dog, Chekhov, the White Spitz. To get acquainted with Anna Sergeyevna, Gurov first calls up the spitz and starts playing with it. The dog, by the way, does not appear again in the story. That is, the function of the white spitz, which everyone remembers, is not just to make people laugh but also to help them get acquainted and socialize. A spitz was urgently brought to Drozdy - exactly like the one that Anna Sergeevna von Dideritz had: white, fluffy and charming. It was just a matter of showing it to mankind so that it would say "lovey-dovey, and its owner must be a lovey, too". Local TV crew filmed the harvesting in Drozdy, where the spitz wandered along the beds. A Russian TV channel was called in as heavy artillery. Once again, money to burn, tickets to throw away.
Because no one said "lovey-dovey". Instead, the few viewers who did watch the Russian show about Lukashenka's human image only wondered how a dog could safely walk around the dinner table. And that's all. Forgotten. No emotions. Did Lukashenka and his team of record-breaking Massandra drinkers take seriously that a cute white dog would make 97 per cent of the Belarusian people forget about August? About Roman Bondarenko? About strikes and marches, Nina Baginskaya's flag-walking and Pavel Arakelyan's saxophone in the yards? About Lebyazhy and Novaya Borovaya? Thoughts wasted. Spitz didn't sign up for that.
I don't know who will be next. Who else will be taken to Drozdy by Lukashenka's PR people to give a human-like image to the retired dictator? Perhaps, it will be a hamster peeking out of his jacket pocket at CSTO meetings. Or a Surinam toad, lying motionless on the shoulder for the whole eight hours of a press conference. Or a Madagascar cockroach that will be pursued in full gear by the participants of the West exercise, because it has hidden, for example, inside a gunner's slit or behind the baseboard in the headquarters. I do not doubt that there are still plenty of creative ideas left unrealised.
The only thing is that all of them are useless. No cockroaches, even the most exotic, will save a member of their squad. Not to mention doggies, sons and hockey players.
And the spitz, hopefully, is safe and sound after all. Unless, of course, it is lucky. After all, survival in the family it ends up is a matter of luck. The other day, former Russian ambassador Dmitry Mezentsev, observing this unfortunate spitz at a military exercise, said that it symbolised the peaceful nature of the exercise. Wrong: a toy dog in a military exercise symbolises the lack of mind of its owners.
Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org