Belarus Reaping the Dividends of Its Correct Corona Bet Spotlights Putin’s Blunder

Belarus’ football team Dinamo Brest was, until recently, a minor squad in an obscure Eastern European nation, whose only claim to fame was winning the local Premier League title last year. However, with the country’s league still playing games while the rest of the world has shut down, interest in the team — and Belarussian football — has spiked globally.

India, Israel and a host of other countries, including Belarus’ neighbor Russia, have bought rights to air matches. The enterprising team has even begun selling virtual tickets online for €25, with fans rewarded with having their pictures pasted on top of a mannequin inside the stadium.

It’s a sharp contrast with what’s happening in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and Belarus’ eccentric dictator Alexander Lukashenko has not been shy about highlighting the differences.

While Putin has followed the rest of the world in imposing a lockdown as coronavirus cases have surged there, Lukashenko has scoffed at such restrictions as “coronapsychosis” and kept his country open for business despite criticism from the World Health Organization.

And while his nemesis in Moscow has holed up in his country estate and retreated from public view as the crisis has intensified — prompting Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov to dismiss rumors that Putin was “waiting out the pandemic in a bunker” — pugnacious Lukashenko has sought out the spotlight instead.

He has continued playing ice hockey in front of fans, and upstaged Putin by holding a live military parade — with thousands of soldiers and elderly veterans of the war — to commemorate the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany on May 9, while neighboring Russia canceled its celebrations.

“In this insane, disoriented world there will be people who condemn us … but we had no choice,” Lukashenko declared defiantly at the parade, as thousands of spectators without masks thronged the bleachers. “Let the parade in Minsk today be the only one in the post-Soviet world.”

And while Putin has taken the sane course and recommended that Russians “stay home” to save lives, Lukashenko is relishing his role as a COVID-19 denier and has claimed that drinking vodka, having saunas and driving tractors will keep the virus at bay.

For now at least, Lukashenko’s exhortations that it’s better to “die on your feet than live on your knees” seems to be reaping dividends.

The Belarussian ruble has strengthened 10 percent against the dollar since March, while the Russian ruble has fallen by more than 20 percent. Unemployment in Belarus still stands at just 4 percent, while more than 1 million Russians have lost their jobs in the last two months.

Experts predict that Russia might lose almost 10 million jobs because of the coronavirus crisis. And while the Kremlin has earmarked more than 2 trillion rubles ($27 billion) to support the Russian economy, economists say that’s just a drop in an ocean of economic suffering.

“Russia has outlined no comprehensive aggregate economic policy response,” wrote Gunter Deuber, head of economics at Raiffeisen Bank in a recent report. “Hence, it can be concluded that Russia’s political priorities lie elsewhere.”

Fear and confusion have gripped Russia as the country has recorded more than 260,000 coronavirus cases, with infections rising by more than 10,000 a day. Three Russian doctors died in falls from hospital windows, reportedly after they expressed serious frustration about their hospitals’ response to the pandemic. Meanwhile, panicked Muscovites have been locked in their apartments for more than six weeks in a harsh lockdown that won’t be eased until the end of May at the earliest.

As Putin has taken a back seat and delegated responsibility to regional governors, his popularity has hit a historic low of 59 percent in early May, according to the independent Levada Center. Its polls found that more than a third of Russians disapproved of Putin’s handling of the corona crisis.

With falling oil prices adding to the Kremlin’s woes, this crisis might be the greatest challenge to Putin’s rule in his 20 years at Russia’s helm. The vote on the constitutional amendment that would let him rule for another two terms until 2035 has been put on hold indefinitely.

But as Putin frets, it’s business as usual across the border in Belarus: Lukashenko has not backed down from holding presidential elections in early August, despite criticism from the country’s opposition. A likely victory there would hand the former pig farm director his sixth term as president of Belarus, and extend his iron rule until 2025.

The idiosyncratic Belarussian dictator, who is fiercely competitive with the Russian leader — and even claims to be a better ice hockey player — can be seen as the Joker to Putin’s Batman. And during these scary corona wars, the Joker’s nihilistic, live-and-let-die attitude seems to be triumphing against Batman’s respect for human health and decency.

Though Russia is doing the right thing by imposing strict lockdowns, and for once being forthcoming with its citizens about the dangers of the coronavirus, the Kremlin’s still getting booed for its efforts. Frustrated Russians would rather shoot the messenger, and there are legitimate issues with the country’s handling of the crisis.

Russian-built ventilators short-circuited and caught on fire in a hospital in St. Petersburg, killing six patients. Doctors are working overtime and don’t have enough PPE. Small businesses are suffering. Many people are afraid to go outside, even for exercise, and domestic violence has been on the rise.

Meanwhile, Belarus has emerged as the Sweden of the post-communist world, and its devil-may-care attitude threatens the legitimacy of Russia’s harsher response.

No wonder an enraged Kremlin is keen to strike back. Russia has closed its borders with Belarus, even though they’re part of a union state. And the Kremlin’s main television station, Channel One, recently cast doubt on Belarus’ low official death count of 112, running a report from a cemetery near Minsk that had supposedly seen a spike in fresh graves in late April.

It also claimed that Belarus now has one of the highest per capita infection rates in Europe. Lukashenko dismissed the dispatch as fake news and expelled the Russian journalists responsible for the report. “Everyone is figuring out how to bite Belarus because we’re not following suit,” he barked back.

As Moscow’s lockdown extends into the summer, and Belarus stays defiant and free, tensions are sure to reach boiling point. With Russian’s frontiers closed indefinitely, and some driving to Minsk’s still-functioning international airport to exit the country, Belarus’s stance risks setting off a wave of rebellions against lockdowns across the border.

Already Kaliningrad, Yaroslavl and other regions are lifting restrictions early against advice from Moscow. Expect more trolling and propaganda out of the Kremlin against Lukashenko’s corona-denying regime in the coming months.

However, unless a huge surge in deaths destabilizes the country and leads to street protests against Lukashenko’s rule, there’s precious little that Moscow can do for now. If the trajectories of the two countries don’t change, the Joker could end up having the last laugh.

Source: Politico

  1. molambo . says

    What would Belarus be without Russia’s decades-old subsidies? Crap!

  2. alex f. says

    From polico crap to here fake spreading crap is fashion all over. here are few fakses spreading here:

  3. Mychal Arnold says

    I trust Putin! It is hard to go against the lockdown! Only a few countries did not!

  4. Udo Bauer says

    more lies in this article than I can count.

  5. ArcAngel says

    “Anti-Empire” … you are kidding right!!!!
    Time for a new title…. maybe “Orwellian Empire”
    The site seems to have become a mouth piece for the Uber EL-ites, in a “back-handed” sort of way, especially since the new site format.
    Lately most of the articles on this site has become unreadable, and prior to this, making it to the end of some leftwing looney diatribe was a chore.
    “Politico” is pure bullshit. Their worship of WHO insanity is clear to see.
    I do not know if “Vijai Maheshwari” could have been more condescending of Lukashenko and more of a bootlicker for Herr Putin following ORDERS by the anti-Human WHO.
    “Ridicule is the toll of the fool”.
    “Anti-Empire” will now follow other Orwellian sites, such as “Anti-War” and be deleted.
    I’ll drop by once in a blue moon, to see if there is ‘any gold to be mined from the mountains of BS’ now appearing on this site.
    After that bullshit, I feel I need a shower.

  6. bob says

    This must be an old article,as Russia now has over 350,000 thousand covid cases,unless it was an editorial mistake????

    1. stevek9 says

      The real number of current and past infections might be 10 million, and that would be a good thing. It would simply lower the IFR enormously (it’s already very low, almost exactly 1%). The vast majority of infected people are asymptomatic. Here is another comparison, the daily number of deaths in Russia averages 5,100 per day. So, currently 3249/5100 * 24 hours = 15 hours worth of typical number of deaths. Is that worth shutting down the country (or even just Moscow)?

      1. bob says

        You don’t know what the deaths are in Russia,because they lie about everything,so don’t even begin to include those in your calculations,you may as well do them on toilet paper before you wipe your backside on it!

        1. XRGRSF says

          Thanks, Bob, you just labeled yourself as a U$ troll; keep up the good work, and maybe your boss will throw you a bone. My dear U$ American government lies about the time of day, but Russia seems to keep it’s people informed as does China. Something about maintaining faith in the government, and the media. Something the U$ just can’t seem to understand. Another thing, Bob, people in this forum are generally a whole lot sharper than the average American so they see your posts for what they are, unintelligible garbage.

          1. bob says

            The fact they read this rubbish discounts them from anything remotely intelligent,its just low grade pro kremlin blather for the Putin fan boys

          2. stevek9 says

            I think your are being a little unkind to the CIA. I hope to God our trolls sound more intelligent than this.

            1. XRGRSF says

              Back in the day I worked with/around the company, and I agree that while they are treacherous they are most definitely not stupid.

          3. bob says


  7. ke4ram says

    “and while Putin has taken the sane course and recommended that Russians “stay home”

    I tried but couldn’t force myself to read the rest. Obvious the implication is Putin sane,,, Lukashenko insane.

    Then we have the horrid 260,000 infections! 10,000 a day. Well that is what you need to ramp up mass immunity, yes? But not mentioned….

    I am surprised to see this type of journalism after the excellent article concerning Yemen. I note the bait and switch on this article like that pointed out in the Yemen article.

    This site has done much to expose the insanity of this ‘alleged’ virus. Why this article, I don’t know. I can only guess the love of Mr. Putin overcomes the insanity and stupidity of his locking down Russia.

    Edit… Latest Russia Covid Deaths 3633
    Russia Population 145, 000, 000
    Deaths percentage of pop… 0.00003
    Deaths per confirmed cases…. 0.01

    Hardly the plague…

    1. ArcAngel says

      Great comment

    2. stevek9 says

      People insist on reporting ‘cases’, which means almost nothing. More testing, more cases. Deaths are a better measure, although so many games have been played with the reporting of deaths. And, for Russia deaths remain incredibly low.

      Deaths per 100,000 population per ECDC data as of May 23:

      Russia: 2.21
      Germany: 9.81
      US: 29.25
      France:: 43.95
      UK: 48.50
      Italy: 54.04
      Spain: 60.06
      Belgium: 79.55

      Russia may be at an earlier phase, but there is no way they will approach typical European numbers.

      1. ke4ram says

        Those numbers of deaths from the West are totally bogus,,, especially from the indispensable nation. The elderly paid the supreme price… looks like that is what the West wanted as pensions were running low. This is why the governors in the States put the sick in nursing homes… today they say oops, we didn’t know sick people could infect others! We’re so dumb,,, So sorry.

        “Back in the Day” ,,, I am over 70,,, we took care of the elderly and others that were sensitive then waited for mass immunity ( today insultingly called Herd Immunity ) which didn’t take long. After all settled down most were immune and the elderly were reasonably safe.

        Had we “locked down” the Spanish Flu would likely still be circulating.

        1. carlo151 says

          This is more contagious than the Spanish flu since you are highly contagious before you have symptoms.

        2. Emmet Sweeney says

          Not what the “West” wanted; what the Jewish-owned media wanted.

        3. stevek9 says

          The death numbers are bogus to varying degrees I think, and it’s hard to know what to make of them. The ranges for different countries are enormous, and I think to some extent real. I think we will learn some things eventually. It’s clear already, that perhaps the most important factor will be exactly what each state does with its elderly/ill. Dr. Giesecke pointed out in one video that Sweden had a few large nursing homes, and Norway many small ones … which may be one reason Norway had so few deaths, etc. And there are the infamous cases in the UK and NYC where they emptied the hospitals and put sick elderly people in nursing homes.

          I have a plot of a large number of countries cumulative deaths / 100,000, but I can’t get the image to upload, despite the fact that I have tried JPEG and PNG formats and the file is < 5 meg. I keep getting this message: Unfortunately your image upload failed. Please verify that your image is in a supported format (JPEG, PNG, or GIF) and under 5MB. If you continue seeing this error, please try again later.

          I let the website owner know, but didn’t get a reply.

      2. bob says

        The death rate in one sense is totally irrelevant,its the effects of the lockdown on Russias economy and by all accounts its gonna be pretty grim going forward

        1. stevek9 says

          Russia has one advantage. The epidemic seems to have come very late there. Putin was disappointing here, but he is still highly intelligent, and results from around the World are showing more clearly every day, that the damage from ‘lockdown’ will far exceed anything the epidemic could have done, even if no steps were taken at all. So, one might suppose that Russia will exit this idiocy with a far shorter ‘lockdown’ period than the rest of the World. That’s assuming concern for the Russian people outweighs desire for political power over peoples lives.

          1. fluttershield mlp says

            Hopefully, Russia will exit the shutdown soon to limit the damage.

          2. bob says

            From what i understand Russia hasn’t shown anymore intelligence in dealing with this,Putin doesn’t seem that bothered as he’s delegated to the regions,regions which haven’t basically got the money or authority to act in a cohesive way inline with a sound national strategy,unfortunately this covid thing has outsmarted Putin and theres not much he can do to hide that fact

            I don’t see what advantages Russia has,that’s more like wishful thinking than realism

            1. stevek9 says

              The intelligent thing would have been to follow the Belarus method (the point of this article). However, one doesn’t have to be fooled forever and I think Putin is wising up … already lifting restrictions in ‘regions’.

            2. XRGRSF says

              Russia has the advantages of space, and above all social cohesion. People in Russia don’t tend to panic, and they work together; unlike the U$. Also, people in Russia aren’t waiting on the next free ride.

            3. stevek9 says

              The US has that same ‘space’ advantage. And, in fact if you look at a bit more detail, you will see that this was an epidemic in the NYC area … and nowhere else. Everywhere else in the country the death toll is very low (my State NH, has 6.66 deaths / 100000), sometimes absurdly low. If not for NYC it would not even have been noticed.

              Why is that? It’s going to take a good deal of analysis to figure that out. Florida, with its very large retired population has something like 1/20th of the death rate in New York. They took a different approach with nursing homes (I didn’t keep the link). Interestingly Florida also opened its beaches weeks ago, and has had a ‘light’ version of the lockdown (much less draconian than Moscow). So, keep in mind that the US is not Andrew Cuomo (or Bill DeBlasio), and I don’t believe Russia is Anatoly Sobyanin.

            4. bob says


              Russia needs to be in outer space!

              Literally what planet are you from buddy???

              No amount of space has stopped the spread of covid in Russia,I’m honestly shocked i tell you,😲 shocked at how completely it spread to every single region of Russia,yup all that space,but hey who cares,after all covid doesn’t exist, just a bit of flue,…..but eh,didn’t Putler close the country down???

              Must be serious,maybe he got his instructions from Beijing 😜

        2. stevek9 says

          Of course, but ‘lockdown’ was sold everywhere based on a hugely inflated estimated death rate. There isn’t a lot of hope, but pointing out actual death rates is one method of fighting back. And, of course death rate without the dependence of mortality on age is meaningless. Take an extreme artificial case … ‘no one under 80 dies, every person over 80 does’ versus ‘all deaths occurred in people under 20’. We could arrange that to have the same overall death rate, but it would hardly mean the same thing to society.

          1. bob says

            What has meaning to people is this,when you actually know people who’ve died of covid or become seriously ill,personally i now unfortunately know six people,one who died,the others survived but all said categorically it wasn’t anything like flue,they certainly couldn’t and didn’t work for between two to five weeks,once people know this they’ll start to self isolate anyway,it doesn’t matter if there’s a lockdown or not

            1. XRGRSF says

              Good for you, Bob, but that’s six more people than I know. My count of WooHooFlu victims is still at zero. You must get out more than I do.

            2. bob says

              You said it mate

            3. stevek9 says

              How would the people (~80%) who had no symptoms at all categorize the illness? Well, they could not, could they? Every death is a personal tragedy, but that is not how Science is done, and shouldn’t be how policy affecting the lives of millions is done. People would absolutely NOT have reacted as they have done without the endless shrieking propaganda we have seen. Influenza killed 88,000 people in the US in 2017/8. How many took notice?

              My brother (who is not too young) and has a heart condition was pretty ill in Northern NJ (I was on top of that every day), but that changes nothing about my opinion on what a correct course of action should have been for my country. I won’t bore with a resume, but I have 40 years of Academic/Industry experience as a Scientist, including 20 years in Medicine.

            4. bob says

              Good don’t bore me then!

              I couldn’t care less what your experience is, because you’ve obviously wasted your life especially when you can’t see what a BS merchant Putin is and how he’s failed

            5. stevek9 says

              Since you know all these sick people, I thought you were a mature person. But, this sounds like something I would expect from a 10-year-old. I was taking you more or less seriously, but you have cured me of that.

            6. bob says

              You’ve had to much kremlin kool aid,oh incidentally your anti covid fake news,its all just a big nothing burger BS could get you jailed in Russia as Putin brought in strict laws to deal with people like you, even worse in Chechnya were they’d treat you as a terrorist for going against the covid ” narative”,not to mention how the Chinese have dealt with anyone going off reservation on this one !

            7. XRGRSF says

              Bob, please don’t continue to bore us. As a troll you are simply worthless, and whoever holds your leash is going to step in your poop.

        3. XRGRSF says

          Probably not. Russian’s tend to work together, and bounce back rather rapidly while American sit around waiting on the next handout.

          1. bob says

            Yup Russians bounce back,because they never stop failing,they’ve been failing for the last hundred or so years,so yup,they need to get with the whole bounce back from failure programme

    3. bob says

      But the fact is Putin has taken this very seriously,so he obviously doesn’t think this is some sort of fake false flue thing,after all he took total protection in his hazmat suit when visiting the hospital early in the crisis,so he must have taken it seriously unlike that idiot Boris in Britain who nearly killed himself by not taking advice

      Again I’d suggest the deaths aren’t important,considering that you could easily close down you’re economy by letting this thing rip

      Just how many people could you afford to get ill,not dead,just to ill to work, before your economy starts to go tits up?

      I know as a fact that people are now refusing to go back to work unless proper protective measures are in place,you could bribe them of course with double,triple time payments but you can’t do that across the board!

      1. XRGRSF says

        Putin didn’t know what he was dealing with in the early part of the contagion so he suited out. Being an industrial hygienist I can tell you that nothing is being achieved by masks, and social distancing in the work place. The virus is too small to be filtered out by an N-95 mask, and it stays airborne for 3 to 5 hours. All of the industrial CV-19 PPE amounts to nothing more than comfort harassment to make ignorant workers think something is being done.

        1. bob says

          The PPE fails because its made in China 😂😂😂😂😂

          1. XRGRSF says

            To be imported, and certified all PPE has to pass international, and U$ standards. Professionally I’ve found Chinese PPE to be as good or better than U$ PPE, and a hell of a lot less expensive.

            1. bob says

              Pass international BS! My eye,what dross,the whole frigging world is bent and corrupt,now i know your only twelve 😝

              Besides which Walt, why are you bothered about PPE when you said its no good,hypocrite!

  8. cechas vodobenikov says

    the fake news at anti empire becomes more ludicrous—-zero job losses in Russia—all guaranteed during the govt holiday…outside of Moscow where 66% of c19 cases r recorded, lockdowns have been less restrictive…otherwise the trash here deserves no substantive response

  9. Aurum Cimex says

    Lukashenkoapparently is the only sane leader anywhere. In spite of fake figures and idiots everywhere saying that the whole planet should be locked in their homes because of a virus with a lower death rate than flu Belarussia’s so called dictator gives his people more freedom than anywhere. How do I move there?

  10. Nassim7 says

    In New York, 66% of new infections are from people in lockdowns. What is so difficult to understand? It does not work.
    In Germany, new chest infections from all diseases has collapsed – and yet they maintain the lockdown. There were far more infections in the previous 5 years. It is a scam. Putin knows that but he is trying to train the Russian population in case of a bioweapon attack. Also, he has diverted the attention of the Jewish media to China. Far fewer articles criticising Russian than 2 months ago.

    1. bob says

      ….Putin is doing what????

      Training Russian people for a bio weapons attack,yeah,ok I’ve heard it all 😵😷😱

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