Take, for instance, Belarus, a small country sandwiched between Russia and European Union member Poland: President Alexander Lukashenko has shrugged off concerns about Covid-19, telling his people that hockey, vodka, and banya — a traditional sauna — are the best cures.
Lukashenko, who has ruled the country of 9.5 million people for more than a quarter of a century, has imposed few restrictions to prevent coronavirus from spreading further.
And Lukashenko himself hasn’t limited public appearances, opting to play in a hockey match on Saturday.
“I once mentioned that people need to go to banya to fight different viruses, this one included, since Covid-19 doesn’t like high temperatures and dies at +60 C, as the experts informed me,” Lukashenko said, adding that if you don’t have hand sanitizer, drink vodka.
“When you get out of sauna you shouldn’t just wash your hands — down a shot of vodka,” he said. “I don’t drink myself, and I don’t advocate for it, but I’ll be okay with, it’s tolerable at least until Victory Day on May 9.”
Business as usual
Belarus has yet to close its borders — its response so far has been limited to a two-week quarantine order for all those arriving in the country. But all of its neighbors — Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia — have shut theirs.
Work hasn’t stopped either, as Lukashenko is concerned at how the coronavirus response is hurting the global economy. He says he found inspiration in US President Donald Trump’s suggestion that the cure for Covid-19 should not be worse than the virus itself.
In post-Soviet Central Asia, some local strongmen have