Natallya Kachanouskaya, a member of the Belarusian Language Association, has been teaching English at the Belarusian National Technical University (BNTU) for over 40 years. She takes active part in all election campaigns in the country.
She was a member of electoral commission No. 57 at the latest presidential election and recorded real voting results: Lukashenka – 41%, Sannikov – 24%. Natallya talks to charter97.org about her vision of the “elections”.
- What form of participation in the “elections” did you choose and why?
I will try to be an active observer. I think observation should be carried out even if most political parties call to boycotting. Boycotting does not mean doing nothing. Observation is very important because we record violations and know the real voter turnout.
- So, participation or boycott?
I stand for boycott. But I like a position when candidates are nominated to work with people and have access to media. It helps to organize a picket and talk to people. There were cases when people gather to discuss questions relating to their houses, but policemen appear and disperse them. If you have permission for a picket or you are registered officially, you can take part in a boycott campaign. I think candidates should carry out a boycott campaign and then withdraw. This is active struggle. If you are not registered, you have no access to media.
- Don't you think there will be a crackdown on people who want to become candidates?
They should know what they risk. The previous election showed what Sannikov and the rest risked. Statkevich is still in prison. We cannot betray these people now. Europe's pressure on the regime is too soft to make it release political prisoners.
- What advice would you give to the people, who have an opportunity, but don't dare to become an observer?
If someone is afraid to represent a political party, it is possible to be nominated by dwellers of an election district, to collect ten signatures. It is enough to be an observer. It is easy for pensioners, who have a lot of free time. They can start observation on Tuesday, not only on Sunday. The most serious falsifications happen on Saturday night, when the box for early voting is full. If you observe since Tuesday, you can know the exact number of people who voted early.
- What do you advise people who are being forced to vote?
I recall Chekhov's words about squeezing the slave out of yourself drop by drop. One should think: Do I violate the law or not? What am I afraid of? Am I doing something bad to my country and my family? One need to think if his children and grandchildren will be proud of him. If you are a citizen, do not do anything you will later regret. It is psychological fear you need to overcome.