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Vice.com is an interesting place; scattered among headlines like “Polyamorous People Tell Us How They Make Their Relationships Work” and “Talking To My Grandma About Her 12 Abortions” is some pretty insightful political coverage.
Posted earlier this week, Katie Englehart’s ‘How A Photo Of A Park Pissed Off Authorities In Europe’s Last Dictatorship’ paints a surreal image of life inside of Belarus, using the tiny city of Rogachev as a backdrop.
Englehart introduces us to Dzianis Deshkevich – a local journalist who is accosted by a woman dressed all in black who identifies herself as Rogachev’s ‘Head of Ideology.’ This occurs shortly after he is observed committing the egregious offense of taking pictures inside of a park.
Dr. Galina Mizhevich, a lecturer at the University of Leicester, pointed to similarities between Belarus and the Soviet Union.
“Belarus has a ministry concerned with ideological matters,” she said. “It is a sort of replication of the Soviet system. There are books in all the bookstores explaining what this ideology is about.”
Beyond the bureaucratic harassment that comes as a result of seemingly innocuous journalism, the article dives into the reign of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko who is serving his fifth term. Lukashenko has remained in power thanks to a series of allegedly rigged elections (of course I guess it could have just been hanging chads).
For socio-political buffs the article and accompanying video offer a fascinating look at day-to-day life under a corrupt Soviet style regime.
For those who think the solution to all of our problems lies in the creation of an Orwellian society where big brother always knows what’s best, the article should serve as much more – a warning.
This contributor is a Marine veteran that has served in the Middle East. Due to the sensitive nature of his current job, he has requested to remain anonymous.