Friday, February 23, 2007

No, Belarus and Russia haven't reunited yet

Word of advice to Howie Carr - referring to Peter Berdovsky as a Russian is like referring to Boston as a city in New York. Yet Carr did it anyway.

And this gentle, peaceful, harmless Russian, along with his sidekick, whom I hesitate to call a Townie because I’ll bet he grew up in the ’burbs, leave packages not only unattended, but they have wires coming out of them, and batteries, both of which the cops have been trained to look for.

Borat Berdovsky calls it “a work of art.”

For the record, Peter Berdovsky is from Belarus, not Russia. I discussed this before in a post in my old blog, the Ontario Empoblog. For those who haven't heard the story of why Peter Berdovsky left Belarus, here is part of it.

[I]t was another journey that Peter embarked on a decade earlier that changed his life forever. A native of Belarus, he was finishing up the academic year as an exchange student at Arlington High School when he approached a fellow classmate about a growing concern.

“I had been reading articles on the brutality and increasing dictatorial behavior in Belarus,” he said. “Tears came to my eyes, and I had a choice … to live my life or stay subdued. I had already been detained for political activity, and I felt a lot freer here.”

Before his visit to Arlington, his democratic beliefs landed him against a wall, staring at the wrong end of a soldier’s gun.

“A swat team came out of nowhere as my friends and I were leaving a local coffee shop,” he said. “They jumped out of their Jeeps, lined us up against the wall while reloading their automatic weapons pointed to our heads, searched us all and took a few of us in for interrogation.

“They went through my journals and told me that my poems were too ‘free thinking,’ and that I should stop all of my political activities. I got threatened by them later as well, as a way to keep me in check I guess.”

For fear of persecution upon his return, Berdovsky shared his hopes for political asylum with confidant Josh Rich, who later explained his situation to his father Michael.

Michael Rich recalled Peter’s initial request for political asylum.

“Peter came to me with issues concerning Belarus, voicing concerns over decreasing freedoms,” Rich said. “He told me the story of how he had been accosted at gunpoint over his pro-democratic positions, and therefore would I help him get political asylum.”

What followed next for Berdovsky and the Rich family was a dedicated effort to help Peter obtain asylum.

So, since Howie Carr can't tell the difference between Belarus and Russia, I say we kick him out of New York.

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