On March 15 a major snowstorm “Xavier” hit Belarus. The whole traffic in Minsk came to a halt, some metro stations couldn’t handle the inflow of passengers and were closed town, people were stuck in snow in their cars both in Minsk and on highways, the only option for some was to walk back home from work through knee-deep snow.
On social networks people offered to bring petrol, food or hot tea and offered their houses for a free stay overnight to those stuck on the highways, and even fancy four wheel drive owners (http://4x4.by/news/) ventured to help people pull cars out of the snow.
It was all over Facebook and covered by all independent and opposition media to the best of their abilities, given the available resources:
A lot of people who were stuck in the blizzard later said they were grateful to the FM radio station Alfa Radio (http://www.alpha.by/) which extensively covered the emergency and connected people in need with those who could help.
It sounded quite serious, so I decided to watch state Belarusian TV for once in my life to see what’s happening in the country. I was disgusted.
9PM. Main news program of the day “Panorama” on Belarus main TV channel BT. From minute 1 to minute 10 all you see on the screen are the faces of Lukashenka, Putin and Medvedev mulling another unification deal in St. Petersburg. Thanks! I have seen this 200 times before. I loudly swear in public (administrative offence in Belarus, usually punishable by 15 days in jail) and walk away from the evil TV set. Then I cool down a bit, and decide that I really really want to know what’s happening and come back.
15 minutes into the news program. The great leaders of the two nations are still on the screen posing to the cameras. Medvedev says they have such great weather in St. Petersburg, sunshine, not like in Moscow, very good weather to sign important documents. Can you imagine what they show on TV at the time when people are freezing in their cars or trying to make it home through snow!
17 minutes into the newscast. Finally! Now about the weather. The anchorwoman says a strong snowstorm hit Belarus. In fact, it was so strong that none of our film crews could make it to the streets to make stories. (!!! How cool is this!) So the only thing we can show you is the footage shot by cell phones that our viewers sent us. A minute or two of repeating footage of cars stuck on the road, then a very important state official promising everything will be all right soon, then (by the way) the woman mentions that the Ministry of Emergency closed all exits from Minsk, another very important official, and that’s it. More news.
You really had to pay close attention to find out that the roads are closed for traffic, so those who didn’t watch this masterpiece news program very carefully could very easily get stuck in the middle of the road again tomorrow.
Thank you, Belarusian Television! I am not watching your news bulletins again.