6 February 2023, Monday, 22:35
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To Stoubtsy For Sentences

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To Stoubtsy For Sentences
Iryna Khalip

Lukashenka has been chasing Herasimenia for three days to say how much he didn’t care about her.

You know, trials in absentia look ridiculous and helpless only at first glance. They are, of course, both ridiculous and helpless. But in reality, this is the dream of today's regime: to speak, to accuse, to pronounce sentences, and not to hear a single word in response.

I'm trying to imagine what it will look like. “All rise, the court is in session!” and no one gets up. “Defendant, plead guilty?” —- but the cage is empty, and there is no one to answer. “Your last word?” Silence in the room. “Do you understand the verdict?” the silence, which is already becoming mocking.

But there will still be a prosecutor who must ask questions of the defendants, but with cunning in order to expose and bring to light. But he will have to communicate with an empty cage, look like an idiot and thank not even his direct, but the supreme leadership for the idea of holding such trials against oppositionists.

Everyone, mind you, will look idiotic: not only prosecutors with judges, but also witnesses for the prosecution (“Witness, do you know the accused?”), and the secretary, who will take notes on all this, and even technical employees whose job is to post announcements on the court’s website. So, they posted, for example: Aliaksandra Herasimenia is summoned to court on December 19, you must have an identity document with you. Those who came up with it, wrote it and published it, probably imagine how Herasimenia every morning, before washing up, rushes to the computer and opens the website of the municipal court: “Have they written something about me? What if they call? The main thing is not to forget the passport, otherwise they won’t let me into the court!” And she rushes, one morning finally finding her last name on the website, to pack her suitcase. Or rather, a prisoner’s bag.

For all this senseless activity, such as conducting criminal cases in which there is no one to try, prosecutorial study, preparation of charges, online subpoenas, actual meetings with questions to the emptiness and sentences to nowhere — for all this, the participants in the action receive salaries, bonuses, all sorts of quarterly payments, “thirteenth” salaries. A waste of time, a senseless killing of time, a lot of money into the abyss — but everybody is doing their business. Crime in the country has long been over, so you can do something for the soul. Fishing, for example, or trials in absentia. Calling those who have left to immediately appear in court with a passport to receive a verdict. Playing spillikins. Tracking likes on social media. Collecting match labels. In general, there is darkness. And life begins to seem filled with content and meaning, and not empty, like a drum. Although this is the same illusion as trials in absentia of oppositionists.

The thirst that pushed Lukashenka to start these useless criminal cases and lawsuits is understandable. It's like in Evgeny Schwartz's play “An Ordinary Miracle”: “I chased you for three days to say how much I don’t care about you!” The people who are going to be tried in absentia — everyone from Dyleuski to Herasimenia — are out of his reach. He can only spy on them through the peephole of social networks and rage with impotence. Unlike Lukashenka, they can also move freely around the world. And what is he to do? Gnaw through the bars of the cage and rush after them in pursuit? He cannot gnaw or run. So it remains to chase them for three days to say how much he doesn’t care about them. Create the illusion of control over their lives. So it looks like he can do something.

But the scheme itself looks like an ideal model of Lukashenka's state. Courts in which there are no defendants, but there are prosecutors and judges. Elections where there are no voters, but there is Yarmoshyna. Schools without children. Factories without workers. Theaters without spectators. Houses without tenants. A country without citizens.

This is Belarus for Lukashenka. A state with the KGB, prosecutors, courts and prisons, but no people. He's almost made it happen. By the way, I propose carrying out trials in absentia against oppositionists in the Stoubtsy District Court: in Stoubtsy, all available lawyers have not made it through certification. This is a district where there are no lawyers at all now — what a perfect setting for Lukashenka's trials.

Iryna Khalip, exclusively for Charter97.org