Human Rights Group Invites Poker Federation to Use "Dictatorship" Deck

Oct 14, 2013, 13:50 ET from Belarusians in Exile

NEW YORK, Oct. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- US-based non-profit organization Belarusians in Exile (BiE), dedicated to promoting the return of democracy and basic human rights to Belarus, often described as Europe's last dictatorship, has invited the International Federation of Poker (IFP) to use a deck of cards depicting key members of the current Belarusian regime – the key people responsible for allowing Alexander Lukashenko to hold on to the nation's presidency for 19 years.


In a letter to IFP President Patrick Nally, head of BiE Dmitry Shehigelsky invited the Federation to use the special deck of cards in one of its tournaments or exhibition games to "draw attention to the human rights abuse in Belarus and in support of the Belarusian poker players and other citizens who are subject to oppression." "Out of thousands of poker enthusiasts and professional poker players in [Belarus], many have been active in [IFP] since 2009 and hope that International Federation of Poker will support the fight for human rights and political freedom in Belarus," Shehigelsky wrote.

Cards in the "dictatorship" deck depict Lukashenko family members who have taken top positions in the government, the military and law enforcement agencies, other government members who have been instrumental in securing Lukashenko's regime and benefiting from it, and business leaders bankrolling the regime.

For example, Alexander Lukashenko's eldest son Viktor Lukashenko is depicted on the King of Hearts card as the one in control of the Belarus' law enforcement agencies, the Prosecutor's Office, and also supervising much of the regime's money flows. His younger son Dmitry Lukashenko is a 10 of hearts in the same deck as a more junior public figure in charge of a national sports association and in control of wealth redistribution among companies and individuals close to the regime. His third son and heir apparent Nikolay is shown on the Joker card.

Other individuals on the cards include Valentin Sukalo, head of the Belarusian Supreme Court, Valery Kirienko, director of Belaruskali, Vladimir Tretyakov, head of oil trader Naftan, Elena Kudryavets, director of Belarusian Potash Company – businesspeople responsible for bringing funds to the regime, and more. Alexander Lukashenko himself is shown on all four ace cards to represent his control over all aspects of life, government, and any endeavour in Belarus: as the Commander-in-Chief on the ace of clubs, as the great scientist on the ace of spades, as the great banker and financier on the ace of diamonds, and as the great agricultural reformer and administrator on the ace of hearts. He has either formally assumed these roles over the past 19 years, or acted in these capacities in the past.

The full deck of cards can be viewed online at Belarusians in Exile are "asking the US and the EU to put the individuals depicted on the cards to be added to the sanctions list as they are directly responsible for the current situation in Belarus," according to the BiE statement.

Dima Shehigelsky
Belarusians in Exile
+1 (646) 583-2525

SOURCE Belarusians in Exile