Alyaksandr Lukashenka declared recently that he got proof that Western powers stand behind both the Navalny case and the protests in Belarus. 4 September, the Belarusian security services, KGB (yes, KGB), published an audio recording of a super-secret conversation between officers of the German and Polish special forces, discussing details on the Navalny poisoning and noting that Lukashenka has proven to be a hard nut to crack.
The conversation was made public with a Russian voice-over on Friday on Belarusian state TV that has provoked an avalanche of jokes and laughter on Russian and Belarusian social media.
A Hard Nut
The dialogue sounds very much like something from cheap spy movies, poorly dubbed into Russian, and the “officers’” despair of Lukashenka’s ability to survive the protests gives an impression of the KGB wanting to suck up to the boss.
Berlin: How are you doing in Belarus?
Warsaw: To be honest, not very good. President Lukashenko proved to be a hard nut to crack. They are professional and well organised. The civil servants and the military are loyal to the president. We’re working on it. I’ll tell you the rest when we meet; it’s not something to talk about on the phone.
The officers on the tape, who supposedly represent German and Polish special forces, are called “Mike” (from Warsaw) and “Nick” (from Berlin); neither name very Polish or German sounding, but, again, with a certain action movie ring to it. The quote above, calling Lukashenka a “hard nut to crack” is a direct referral to the Bruce Willis franchise Die Hard: in Russian “Krepky Oreshek” – a hard nut.
The Kremlin Underwhelmed
Lukashenka made his claim on having proof of the Navalny poisoning being fake in a conversation with the Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin. Obviously, in an attempt to please Moscow and demonstrate solidarity with the Kremlin in the wake of the report from Germany, confirming the suspicions of Navalny as a victim of an attack of a military grade toxic substance of the Novichok-group. Judging from the comments from pro-Kremlin media, the Belarusian KGB’s amateurism has not impressed. The main Russian state mouthpiece abroad, RT.com, has avoided mentioning this “sensational disclosure”.
Vladimir Soloviev, one of Russian state TV’s leading propagandists, comments on the recording very curtly:
Honestly, I am not at all impressed by the intercepted telephone conversation, published yesterday by Minsk.
Kremlin-loyal web news agency Lenta.ru has published a collection of memes, poking fun at Lukashenka and the “intercept”, showing photo-shop art, where Bruce Willis has been replaced with the beleaguered Lukashenka.
No Laughing Matter
The Russian state news agency, RIA Novosti, has felt compelled to publish a formal denial from two Russian comedians, known for pulling pranks on telephone:
The Russian pranksters Vladimir Kuznetsov (Vovan) and Aleksey Stolyarov (Lexus) have declared to RIA Novosti that they are not involved in the conversation between Berlin and Warsaw, intercepted by the Belarusian intelligence.
It seems obvious that Lukashenka’s attempt to please Moscow has backfired, and the Belarusian president is now a laughing-stock of the whole world. Still, it is important to remember that Lukashenka controls a powerful police machinery and has demonstrated a readiness to act with brute force against unarmed civilians. If the Belarusian KGB has demonstrated blatant inaptitude when it comes to falsification of documents, their skills and sophistication when it comes to repressive violence is apparent. Nevertheless – the Belarusian people continue their struggle for their rights.