6 October 2022, Thursday, 9:28
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Squealer, Keep Singing

Squealer, Keep Singing

Denunciators are voluntary assistants to consumers.

I have not been surprised at arbitrary arrests for a long time (probably twenty years already), but I still cannot learn to calmly accept arrests based on denunciation. I mean situations when officers of GUBOPiK just come spontaneously and break down the door in order not to waste a day. I assume that they simply pull out a piece of paper with the address of the target person from the hat to come there in the morning. This is not surprising to me. Their level of intelligence and fantasy is known to everyone, no surprise. They are no longer able to surprise, no matter how hard they try.

But here when someone makes denunciation, this person is incomprehensible for me. It's like another species, the Common Denunciator (Vulgaris). Such species are unlikely to be related to homo sapiens, but biologists are mistaken for some reason. However, could it just be some kind of a blind branch?

Halina Pataieva, CEO and founder of the Viapol Travel Company and BSU Associate Professor of the Faculty of Geology, was detained on Wednesday on a denunciation. A piece of paper with her address was unlikely to be in the hat of the GUBOPiK people that day. But, it turned out that some Hrodna residents spent the whole day studying Potaeva’s social media pages. Then this person published five posts with calls to the KGB and other security officials: look, look whom I exposed, she has a yellow-blue flag on her page, and also Pataeva is an anti-Soviet woman and does not include the Stalin's Line in her tours. If anyone thinks that it is a free telling of mine, you are mistaken: a citizen of Hrodna calls Halina Pataeva an anti-Soviet individual. I am serious. Outrageous. With requests to the security services to come immediately and deal with it. And they'd come.

Okay, there are no questions to the security services, they are paid for it. They detain Belarusians in order to record a video of repentance with them with no inspiration of and without orders, just “for money”. Belarusians are already accustomed to this, as to the rain in November. There is bad weather, there is the KGB, and there is the GUBOPiK. It's Belarusian climate today. Still, there are people making denunciations, and this is a weather anomaly. The denunciator in the USSR hoped that the neighbour's family would be arrested, and an empty room in a communal apartment, or at least furniture, would go to them, vigilant citizens, at least there was some kind of logic. Infamous, disgusting, cannibalistic, but the logic: I will send the neighbour to prison and I will receive a servant with the porcelain.

By the way, in recent years, many people recall the rhetorical question of Sergei Dovlatov about who wrote the four million denunciations: not Yagoda and Yezhov, but ordinary Soviet people. So, the writer, of course, chose a simple way: he suggested that there were exactly as many denunciations as there were repressed under Stalin. That is quite elementary arithmetic. Let's follow the same path. Let's forget that not everyone sent to the Gulag was arrested on a denunciation and that not every informer wrote just one denunciation and was satisfied. Let's develop the writer's idea. So, one person – one denunciation. Only four million. According to the census, 162 million people lived in the USSR in 1937. And even if we assume that four million of them are informers, it still turns out to be slightly less than three percent. Frankly speaking, it turns out a certain historical number.

And today's denunciators, who spend days and nights studying the pages of complete strangers on social media without any hope of a sideboard with porcelain, seem to be a real anomaly. They write denunciations against people they have never met in their lives. They have never even walked the same streets, have not stepped on their feet, have not been fired from work by them, have not taken their boyfriends, have not taken away their wallets in a dark alley. No touchpoints at all. Nevertheless, a day was spent studying someone else's page, collecting quotes and screenshots, and writing denunciations. What for?

However, let's be reasonable. As you know, there is nothing accidental in nature, and for some reason, it needs everything. Even cockroaches perform some function on the planet I believe (To be honest, I haven't studied this feature in my lifetime, but cockroaches aren't to blame). So, are denunciators on this planet redundant, a mistake of nature? No, not a mistake. I think I understand why they are needed. Remember how people reacted to denunciations and the related repressions: they simply took a queue at a coffee shop, a bookstore, a souvenir shop to support the owners. Actually, we know exactly the travel company to contact if we or our guests need to organize an excursion: of course, it will be the company of Halina Pataeva. And if there had been no denunciation, we would not have known which company to choose. So denunciators are voluntary assistants to consumers. So we finally figured out their task.

Squealer, keep singing.

Iryna Khalip, specially for Charter97.org