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War and Russians: who goes to pro-government rallies in Belarus
Pro-government march in Minsk / Euroradio
Disclaimer: Euroradio's editorial staff in no way claims that only citizens of the Russian Federation, Belarusian Republican Youth Union members, professional extras and drug addicts go to pro-government rallies.
Presidential elections were held in Belarus on August 9. Protests have been held daily since then. Alyaksandr Lukashenka has repeatedly spoken negatively about their participants, calling them prostitutes, drug addicts, drunks, and bums. He also called the leaders of the joint headquarters sheep.
In their turn, the protesters are making fun of Lukashenka’s words: not a single major action is now complete without a roll call:
Sunday street marches gather more than 100 thousand people showing that the number of “asocial people” is impressive.
In parallel with the protest rallies in Belarus, rallies of Lukashenka's supporters take place in Belarus. Although not so massive, they do take place daily. In police reports, they are called “mass events in support of peace, security and tranquility”, as if people with red-green flags want peace, security and tranquility more than those with white-red-white ones.
Euroradio has held several online streams from these rallies organized under the hashtag #yamybatka. Later, with the help of our listeners and the Internet, we looked closely at some of their participants. Who are these people protesting in support of the current authorities?
Illya Vaina (Illya War)
A guy with a national flag on his shoulders was spotted at a pro-government rally on August 25 near Kamarousky market. He told Euroradio online said that it was “civic duty” that brought him to the rally. Being a student, he called himself “a person of state” .
It may look funny though that a few hours before this same guy appeared in the ONT TV story about “the capital's youth who honored the memory of those who died in the Great Patriotic War” as part of the “We Remember” campaign. The story told about young people who laid 75 roses at the monument to the grieving mother in the Chalyuskintsau park -- “one for every year of peaceful life after the war”.
In the story, the young man tells about two grandfathers who had been through the war. He is presented as Illya Vaina (Illya War). The guy can be found on social networks: he is 19 years old, he is a student of the Minsk Polytechnic College at BNTU.
The ONT story leaves the impression that the organized laying of 75 roses at the monument is a personal initiative of young people: there is not a word about their involvement in any organizations. However, the action “We Remember” is an initiative of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union. Unlike the journalists of the state channel, we remember this.
A woman with a Russian flag came to the same rally. In the Euroradio broadcst, she said that in this way she wanted to thank Russia and Putin personally for “supporting us in such a difficult time”. A little later, the woman would take part in the "photo bomb the chief editor of Euroradio” performance.
The viewers of our stream recognized her as a woman from Minsk, Maryna Sh. The woman, according to subscribers, works as a customs clearance specialist and also has one hobby: she regularly participates in mob scenes of various talk shows on Belarusian TV channels and in filming serials on Belarusfilm.
The Euroradio journalist contacted the woman under the guise of an assistant producer of one of the state channels. We told her we were looking for extras for a new talk show, and we found Maryna's contact in another project's database.
"And what will your program be called?" asked Maryna.
"Women's opinion". It will be a classic talk show.
"And what will I need to do there?"
"Just sit in the audience".
"Good. I asking because I'm an experienced mob scene actor: I took part in various shows. True, I haven't been on TV for a long time. The last time was at Vadzim Hihin's ... What was it called ...
"A matter of principle" [the talk show on ONT was closed in 2017 - Euroradio].
"Yes, Yes! I appeared there very often".
As it turned out from the conversation, she was almost not visible in the frame. To find out what she looked like, we asked her to send us a “profile photo”.
And here it is: Maryna Sh. starred in an episode of "some series for Belarusfilm". The experienced extra in a business suit in the photo is very similar to the person from the Euroradio's stream. Notice the glasses that Maryna Sh. is holding in his hand: light frames and dark temples. The woman from our broadcast wears the same glasses.
The stream on August 25 from Kamarouka gave us a lot of interesting characters. One of them is a man with the St. George flag, who claimed to have come from France to “help Belarusians beat the occupiers - Poles and Jews”. The man also voiced the version that Alyaksandr Lukashenka is half Jewish, but on the paternal side, “therefore, he is an honest and conscientious person, our Father”.
Euroradio listeners recognized their neighbor, whose name is Mikhail, in the fighter against Poles and Jews. According to them, he lives in Minsk on Pershamaiskaya Street, and the story of his arrival from France is the fruit of his fantasy.
We could not get through to Mikhail or find him at home. But they saw him on August 10 at the “religious procession”, which was attended mainly by pensioners and members of the organization “NOD-Belorussia”.
At the very end of the stream, an enterprising man approached the editor-in-chief of Euroradio with a desire to speak to the camera. However, it was difficult to catch his train of thought.
The viewer of our broadcast claims to know this guy. And this is what he wrote about him:
“They say that some drug addicts go to our rallies, and in the meantime, on your stream from Kamarouka, at the very end, I found a toothless guy. This is Vova, he is an experienced drug addict and [diagnosis], convicted felon. I spent about a month with him in a cell in Zhodzina. He was a “stricter” in a cell with “first covers”. This is usually not how they put him in, but he worked with the operative, looked after the “house” and fished out information from the person of interest”.
A narcologist from Minsk, on condition of anonymity, shared his opinion about “Vova” with us: he did not recognize him as a patient, but, according to the specialist, “it is clear that he is an addict”.
Alexei Kulakov (?)
One of the participants of the rally in Minsk that took place on September 10 (in the photo: a man with a large crucifix in his hands), was identified by the famous blogger Rustem Adagamov as he Russian Alexei Kulakov -- a participant in the attack on the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in 2017. Navalny was then splashed with brilliant green in his face.
Kulakov is known as a member of the Russian nationalist group SERB. It first showed itself in Ukraine in 2014, fighting against Euromaidan, and then moved to Russia, where it is fighting the anti-Putin opposition.
However, our listeners say that this "deanon" may be wrong. In one of the videos, a man with a crucifix is presented as Syarhei. From another source, we learned that he lives in Minsk, and his name is Syarhei Kauryhin.
After a similar pro-government action on August 8, a laudatory reportage appeared on the news on the state channel Belarus 1. One of the characters there was a man with a beard, who said that the protesters "are manipulated by Western channels, telegrams."
The man's identity was revealed. It turned out to be Anton Tarasov, another Russian citizen. The man lives in Moscow, is a member of the Communist Party, tried to become a deputy of the Moscow City Duma, posts a vlog on Youtube.