Bloggers who attended a "smile mob" in Minsk, Belarus, were arrested for coming to the central square and smiling at each other. Some face months in prison.
Belarus is an ailing former Soviet state (see previous post about electoral rigging by its corrupt dictator), and it's where my paternal grandfather's family comes from. All my life, it was a kind of romantic place of my origin, but all the news I ever hear from there is like this -- police-state tactics that make the Soviet era sound like a paragon of liberty. Sad.
Blogger [info]anei_aka_kirian writes (in Russian) about Sunday's "Smile" flash mob. It was very simple - people were to come to central square and wander around smiling. Information was spreaded in usual way. There were nearly one hundred of riot policemen near the square waiting for the mobbers. And... anei_aka_kirian visited the square with his girlfriend, both smiling. Policemen advanced to them, checked the passports, and then brutally took him to the bus, leaving his girlfriend behind. In the bus he was searched and his small knife was found. He had the official note of Ministry of Internal Affairs confirming that this knife couldn't be considered as a weapon, and it was wrapped. Nonetheless, policemen considered the guy to be one of the organizers of this flash mob and brought him to local police department. There criminal case was opened, and anei_aka_kirian could be punished with 3 months in prison or more for illegal storing of cold steel, despite that official certificate.
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
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