17.10.2007 / 22:12

The Neat President

Aliaksandar Lukashenka calls the old jewish Babrujsk “a pigsty”

“The words of the Belarusian president about Jewish people arouse are surprising and disappointing”, says Zeev Ben Arie, Israeli ambassador to Belarus. On Oct. 12, talking to the Russian journalists, invited to Belarus on a state-sponsored press tour, Lukashenka said:

“If you only were to Babrujsk, you could have seen in which condition the city was. It was scary to enter it! It was a pigsty! This was a Jewish city, mostly. Well, you know, how Jews take care of the place where they live. Just take a look at Israel”.

At the same time, Lukashenka mentioned that the Belarusian Jews, who live abroad, “invested about 60 millions into the Belarusian economy” and called them to return to Belarus.


Zeev Ben Arie

The Israeli Ambassador wishes that “Belarusian cities could reach the level of municipal and sociological services of Israel, with its medicine, care of the elderly and handicapped, fighting drugs and alcohol abuse as well as violence in families, equipment in schools and kindergartens, even though the Belarusian president might have noticed some unkempt loans”.

Babrujsk is the city in Belarus with a rich Jewish history. In 2006 the city was massively renovated before “Dazhynki”, the harvest fest (see photos here). Comparing the renovated city to the older days of Babrujsk was the whole point of the president’s passage.

The statement of Lukashenka has the same style as the anti-Semite views of the Soviet officials, who, for example, ordered the destruction of the old city center of Mazyr, the town in the south of Belarus, in order to “get rid of these Jewish bug-ridden shacks”. At the same time, these were the old Jewish quarters of another Belarusian city Witebsk, which were praised by Marc Chagall in his paintings.

President Lukashenka is deeply convinced that under his rule the Belarusian cities are getting more and more beautiful and clean. Partially, this is true – but at which cost? Look at this picture, taken in the center of Minsk:

The teenage girls involved in this nearly slave labor are students of the Construction Workers College № 53. If you think that they are working part-time, you are wrong. What you see is their obligatory “student practice”. The college sent them to do this dirty work without asking their consent.

More photos by Yaraslau Stseshyk here

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