I will tell you what I heard from a Belorusin lady: people are scared to talk with friends about politics, even at home.
I know about the recent events, about beatings of the opposition leaders, about tough jail sentences, etc. What I really wanted to know was how the general population reacts to all of this.
I used to work - six years ago to be exact - with a Belarusian man in his thirties, in Toronto Canada, where he could feel safe and open in his opinions. I drilled him with questions, not hiding my critique of Lukaszenko. He vehemently objected and was proud of all the democratic achievements of Belarus. And about industrial output, etc. Then I stopped talking politics with him. After all who I was to criticize if he liked the status quo. And he was a university graduate and not stupid man at all. Brainwashed? Perhaps, perhaps not.
Two other Belarusians, the girls, would avoid talking about Belarus.
I have read plenty of reports about Belarus. About countryside people, for example. I read interviews with people who knew Lukaszenko as a young ambitious thug or a good man - depending whom the reporters were talking to. But there is no statistical data on the subject of their love/hate relationship with the current regime.
Well, I listened to your opinion. You described the stalinist-era terror, as it was in Poland in 1950s. Sad. A neighbour scared of neighbour.
Do you think that the Austrians identify themselves as Germans just because they speak German?
Please, I did not mean that. I was talking about a sad statistics in Belarus. I must dig up that old, scientific paper, which very clearly shows a huge difference between status of Ukrainian/Russian vs. Belarusian/Russian.
I think the land and its traditions that you are born in is what makes your national identity.
I only partially agree. Language is important and it was mostly via language and Polish literary output, the church and other cultural traditions that Poland as a nation has survived. Russification program of Poles in both Crown (Warsaw, etc.) and today's Belarus was fierce, deadly and persistent. Eliza Orzeszkowa, for example, a novelist from Grodno and Wilno (Vilnus), fought tooth and claw - using both open and clandestine methods - for the rights to publish Polish papers and books, to teach children in Polish. Germanization was even worse in Wielkopolska and Royal and East Prussia.
However Belarus is cleaner than Poland and has impressive avenues and buildings.Belarussian men are well trained with muscles and belarussian women are of another planet.Such concentrated beauty is difficult to find.
Good for them. :-)
1. Cleaner. Yes, Poland has not cleaned after the communism yet, and unfortunately started a new era of rampant capitalism, billboards everywhere, and wild development with no urban planning. 1:0 for Belarus.
2. Impressive avenues and buildings. Every dictatorship does that. Nazi Germany, Ceausescu's Romania, Castro's Cuba to some extent, Arabian princedoms. But hey, I am not jealous, 2:0 for Belarus.
3. Men with muscles. It was a dream of Soviet Union to prove that Soviets are better than anyone else, including sports. Do you remember the East German women, winning all those medals? But hey, good for them "healthy body - healthy spirit", 3:0 for Belarus.
4. I only saw some Belarusian women, beautiful dressed in folk garb - some beautiful, some not. I am not giving any points here.