6 February 2023, Monday, 21:53
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Uncle Steeple Took To Drink

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Uncle Steeple Took To Drink
Iryna Khalip

Belarusian population minus the Chechersk college.

The regional newspaper Chechersk Vestnik was already choked with delight, telling a story about the arrest of a 16-year-old teenager right in a college building, in the assembly hall, in front of his fellow students. Chechersk journalists specify that he understood everything, because "he looked not just confused." The district newspaper claims that it is a very good and useful idea to carry out such public detentions of children because such events are great to cool the hotheads.

The article is full of pictures made by the Chechersky Vestnik and with newspaper logos. This means that the public arrest was planned in advance. They invited journalists and called the college - "we will arrange a demonstrative 'masquerade' for you, so organize a meeting in the assembly hall at a certain time so that there will be more spectators." In the pictures, we see a uniformed prosecutor standing behind the podium. The prosecutor reads the detention order to the public, describing to those present the severity of the punishment for this teenager. We can see the prosecutor, the college administration, which organized a general meeting in the assembly hall, a guest correspondent of the "district", and six policemen, the defendants did not resist but two police officers still wringing their hands in a picturesque way. It would have been better if they hadn't staged this show. Because such a mediocre performance will not receive positive critics even in a society that is greedy for spectacles.

The girls in the assembly hall in the photo look depressed. One is crying, the other cover her mouth with a hand, the third is in a daze. Did the security forces seriously think about the educational impact of their show, and not about the psychological trauma that is now inflicted on teenagers? I'm talking about those who are arrested, and those who are forced to watch it. The newspaper writes in a rough poster language that "the case will serve as a lesson for other guys and girls who make their own choice of life path". So they will make a choice - now certainly not in favour of their native state, which enjoys bullying its citizens, including children. They will start looking for vacancies and suitors abroad, scholarships for education and loans to start a business, and study immigration law. Belarusian population minus the Chechersk college in one day.

I don't know: maybe the teenager really committed a crime and deserves to be punished. But public humiliation is not a punishment according to the law. The local newspaper bashfully kept silent about the criminal article for offenders, although it was easy for them to call the guy a young criminal without trial or investigation. However, I do not want to criticize the professional level of the Chechersky Vestnik, I think that even without me their level is clear to everyone. But the newspaper quotes a local prosecutor who informs everyone present from the rostrum that for a gross violation of public order by a group of people out of hooligan motives, a teenager faces arrest, restriction or imprisonment for up to 6 years. They made camouflage like Chapaev in jokes: and without any clarification, it is clear without explanation that we are talking about part 2 of Art. 339 (hooliganism committed by a group of persons). Okay, it's perfectly clear, there are no questions. The question is quite different: fellow citizens wearing uniforms, why did you frame yourself again?

The boy was in college, so he wasn't in hiding. And it was completely pointless to conduct a special operation. It was possible to come to their home, especially, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, in case of detention of a minor, parents must be informed about it immediately. The Chechersk police officers first posed in front of the camera of a local correspondent, then they read a lecture to the assembled teenagers about the dangers of hooliganism, then they read out the accusation, and then they probably had tea with the director of the college. It seemed they had no time to call the parents and inform them that their child has been arrested - there are too many different things that distract them. And most importantly, this is a deep and total disregard for laws and other rules, the rules for which these people are responsible, we pay taxes so that they get paid for their work.

And a little more about the attitude of the state towards teenagers. A friend recently told me that she tried to send her son, who is struggling with teenage acne, to a dermatologist. She found a good dermatologist in a private medical center, called to sign up the boy for a consultation - and she was told: "Dear mother, we can’t take a teenager without parents and prescribe an ointment for acne. You must come with him, and show your passport that he is your son, and not some nephew". Ointment for acne without parental consent?! Hell no. A doctor can not take a teenager. But security officers "will accept" with all their pleasure. And they will show it and a newspaper will tell about it.

So let them not be surprised later that grown-up children would prefer to pay taxes in those countries where a police officer for citizens is the same hero as Superman or Batman, and not in one where even Uncle Steeple took to drink and got bored.

Iryna Khalip, exclusively for Charter97.org