No lockdown here: Belarus’s strongman rejects coronavirus risks. He suggests saunas and vodka.
MOSCOW — In Belarus, authoritarian leader President Alexander Lukashenko has famously scoffed at the coronavirus as a “frenzy and psychosis.” His views also come with advice for citizens who don’t share his coronavirus scorn: Hit the sauna, down some vodka and get back to work.As surrounding countries have closed borders, shut down passenger transportation, banned mass events and effectively moved indoors, Belarus remains open and Lukashenko stays defiant.The country of 9.5 million — between Ukraine, Poland, Russia, Lithuania and Latvia — has reported 94 cases of coronavirus.Still, Belarus’s soccer league plays on, the only one in Europe still on the field. Theaters are promoting premieres. Markets, shops, bars, restaurants and churches remain open, in the absence of any government order to the contrary.The air force is conducting field exercises. A Christian Orthodox fair and exhibition, Easter Joy, will be held April 1-12 in the capital, Minsk, with events for families and children.“This psychosis has crippled national economies almost everywhere in the world,” Lukashenko said Friday, visiting Belgips Plant, a plasterboard manufacturer.It is a theme he has pounded relentlessly in recent weeks, convinced that the unprecedented measures against the pandemic are designed to benefit some and harm others. On March 19,