Waffle towels with the print ‘polite people’ are being sold at the Belarusian hypermarkets “GIPPO”. A customer has uploaded the corresponding photos to Facebook. Towels with the Russian tricolor, orders, airplanes, sights and ‘polite people’ chevrons appeared in the shops on the eve of February 23 (Defender of the Fatherland and Armed Forces Day). They cost 1 roubles 99 kopecks (a bit less than one dollar).
The notion ‘polite people’ means Russian soldiers who seized Ukrainian Crimea five years ago. A referendum was held in Crimea a month after the seizure and the territory was annexed by Russia. Most of the countries including Belarus have not recognized the results of that referendum.
While Kiev considers Crimea a territory occupied by Russia, towels with the symbols of occupants are freely sold in Minsk shops. Euroradio has asked the producer of the towels (the company “Tridial Group”) to explain it.
"We bought Russian fabric for the towels. Nobody asked anything about the prints. Nobody has ever phoned us to ask about it, sales expert Tatstsyana assured Euroradio. They did not know what the term ‘polite people’ means, she said. “It is hard to explain why we made the towels. We will definitely react to it now. The supplies will be suspended and the towels that have already been supplied to shops will be returned to the enterprise. We do care about it.”
“Polite people” means what “all the other people think it means”, a “GIPPO” representative claimed at first. Her opinion changed after we had explained the meaning of the notion.
"You should probably ask the supplier about it,” she said. “We have a great selection of goods. It is impossible to check every item. If customers want to ask questions, they can do it officially. We will consider it.”
Everything seemed civilized. However, a man who introduced himself as the director of “BelVillesden” (“GIPPO” is its trademark) made a phone call to the editorial office of Euroradio a few minutes later. He asked what Euroradio had against Russia, Belarus, Vladimir Putin, Alyaksandr Lukashenka and the phrase ‘polite people’ printed on towels. If the Russian armed forces are called ‘polite people’ and if such towels are freely sold in Russia, they can be sold in Belarus just the same, he said.
Having heard that Belarus and Russia are different states and that Belarus has not officially recognized Crimea as part of Russia, the man was surprised and claimed that he ‘simply wanted to congratulate men on February 23’.
Then he told us to phone Trump and put the phone down.