Motherland, Fasel and merciless PR
10:51, Andrzej Poczobut — Opinion
It’s too early for the hockey but it’s already fun.
Last week Motherland got busy with planning the world championship in ice hockey. The year 2014 is close, and the event is going to be remarkable at least for the audience who is so very interested in sport… So, I fully agree that a thorough planning is a must. And since our chief hockey player is you-know-who, this problem was immediately given the highest status. The prime minister, the vice head of administration, KGB-MIA-OAC and company. Everyone. Concerned. Puzzled. Determined.
But there is one but. Despite the ice halls scattered all over the country and wise words spoken by the leadership, the hockey players still haven’t mastered the skill of winning competitions of this level. And what is the point of competitions nobody even cares to dream of winning? But our wise leader has found a solution to what may have seemed an unsolvable problem.
PR has been impudently proclaimed the main purpose of the championship.
“We should show the whole world that we are a civilized country in Central Europe. As before, when people leave they’ll say: this is a completely normal country, city, and not at all what we have read in the mass media,” the hockey player employed as the Belarusian president said.
What a commandable plan. It’s so neat! Like a Head&Shoulders commercial, two-in-one: let’s play some hockey and charm some foreigners. The charming part will begin with foreign journalists. Already on October 17 Aliaksandar Rygoravich produced a most profound decree No477 “On certain issues of media coverage of events to be held within the world championship in ice hockey-2014” Specially trained people shared the good news with common folks: Lukashenka has cancelled journalist accreditation. Now all journalists are free to come and write as much as they please. However the triumph was brief. At 6 p.m. other specially trained people made certain corrections with help of the same officious news agency: not all journalists, and just some writing.
“Of course, sport journalists can write about life in Belarus, but it can only be a part of their materials on hockey. (…) If journalists from different political media not related to sport try to get accreditation via the International Ice Hockey Federation, the organizational committee and the Federation will cooperate to track down such applications and protect the rights of sport journalists. And those journalists who have not worked with hockey or sport will not get accreditation,” as modest resident of Belarus Piotar Rabukhin explained to the news agency BelTA. He added that he retold the words of famous René Fasel, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
We still have no clue as to why Fasel hasn’t said that to BelTA himself. And this is not the only thing that we are clueless about. Who will force foreign journalists to incorporate their impressions of life in Belarus to articles on hockey? And most importantly, how will they force them? Will it be Rabukhin, retelling Fasel’s wish to journalists? Or will it be more experienced specialists from MIA-KGB-OAC skilled in their traditional methods?
In other words, it’s too early for hockey, and it’s already fun.
As we all know, domestic PR has always been merciless and meaningless. And, as life shows, it has a poor impact on other countries. Apart from “useful idiots” (this way grandpa Lenin used to call his foreign non-communist allies. It has always puzzled me that Bolsheviks have been gone for so long, but their “idiots” are still here), troubled but faithful friends like Fidel in coma, Chinese comrades and distant Venezuelan brothers, there are not so many people to count on.
Well, I’ll be happy to see some hockey and hear Rabukhin teaching foreign colleagues the art of perceiving the Belarusian reality, with or without Fasel. I’d love to listen to him talking about defending the rights of sport journalists in a smooth voice. Then Lukashenka will definitely succeed. With both the game and the PR.
So let’s wait till 2014. Impatiently.
Andrzej Poczobut for charter97.org