Belarus at 'war' with imaginary country of Veyshnoria

Belarusian airborne troops during the country's independence day parade in July 2017 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Belarusian airborne troops have an eye on the fictional nation of Veyshnoria

A country invented as part of military exercises in Belarus has caught the imagination of locals, who have created a foreign ministry, flag, history and even its own Wikipedia page for the fictional nation.

Veyshnoria is one of three states made up for the Zapad 2017 military drills, which - according to the scenario - seek to invade Belarus and sow discord between Minsk and Moscow.

The map of the exercise, made public during the General Staff briefing on 29 August, shows Veyshnoria in the north-western regions of today's Belarus, with Vesbaria and Lubenia lying in Lithuania and Poland, the Nasha Niva website reports.

Some commentators noted that the border between Belarus and Veyshnoria "strongly resembles" the border between the Soviet Union in Poland in 1920-39. "This means that under the Zapad 2017 scenario, Belarusians will have to attack the territory of Belarusians," lifestyle website said.

Political historian Pavel Usov, blurring reality and fiction on his Facebook page, said that "Veyshnoria is a peaceful democratic country which has never been aggressive towards its neighbours.

"It is likely that Moscow provoked a conflict between Minsk and Giradis (the capital of Veyshnoria) in order to fully establish control over Belarus and not allow Veyshnoria to join NATO and the EU," he said, reflecting on the real-world tensions surrounding Ukraine's desire to link with the West.

Image copyright Wikimedia/Evgeniy Mahnach
Image caption Facebook users came up with a flag for the 'new' nation

Stew, honey and lard

The online activity around Veyshnoria mostly centres around the satirical Twitter account of its "foreign ministry", @Vaisnoria_MFA.

Tweeting in Belarusian and Russian, the ministry expressed concern over the "concentration of Belarusian military equipment outside Veyshnoria's borders", declared a partial mobilisation and exchanged pleasantries with the parody account of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

It also promised "stew, honey, bread and lard" to Belarusian soldiers who choose to surrender, and announced an entry ban on the Belarusian chief of the General Staff, Aleh Belakonew.

A separate website was set up for Belarusians wishing to apply for Veyshnoria citizenship, with hundreds applying for the imaginary country's passport.

But if you're looking for laughs on the country's Wikipedia page, you might be disappointed, as - in true Wikipedia style - it is a dry rundown of how Veyshnoria emerged, and a lesson that you should never try to explain comedy.

Image copyright Wikipedia
Image caption On second thought, let's not go to Veyshnoria. It is a silly place.

Reporting by Yana Lyushnevskaya, Alistair Coleman

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