19 July 2019, Friday, 5:43
We are in the same boat

Sannikov: Russophobia comes from Lukashenka


Even in the period of peaceful relations with the Kremlin, Lukashenka attacked Russia when some problems in trade occurred.

It has been stated in the interview to Interfax-Zapad agency by a presidential candidate in Belarus, the leader of “European Belarus” civil campaign Andrei Sannikov.

- You are going into the election against the backdrop of the blue-starred flag of the EU. It attracts the youth undoubtedly. But at a recent press-conference you have evidently preferred the policy of Russia concerning the Belarusian election, stating that voices in support of Lukashenka are heard from Europe. Isn’t such a change of orientation a deception of a voter? Or will you change the flag?

- There is no contradiction. The strategic goal is integration to the European Union and partnership with Russia. It’s true, it was difficult to realize for a long time that there cannot be antagonism between these two goals.

We should make the economy compatible both with Russian and European ones. Reforms that had been carried out by all our neighbours, should be carried out for that, I mean modernization of the economy.

- Despite of the modernization, the Russian economy is a raw materials economy. The European economy is an innovative economy. How could we combine our economic models both with Europe and Russia?

- Belarus is not Russia, which is a giant and complex country. It is simpler for us to carry out modernization, thanks to the parameters of the territory and population’s homogeneity. It’s true, the Russian economy is a raw materials producing economy. But we are not speaking about combining the existing Belarusian model with the European and Russian ones, but about creation of such a model that would be working under European standards and it would be beneficial for Russia.

Words are heard from Russia that even the raw materials producing model needs innovations and new technologies. Besides, the strategic partnership of Russia with the European Union becomes more and more visible now. We want to move in the same direction, using our geographic position and our potential: rather skilled manpower, scientific and industrial centres and so on.

- Europeans look more tolerant to the Belarusian election. For instance, the much talked-of statement of Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite… Lithuania, like many Eastern European countries, fears Russia, as it remembers the Soviet Union well. The EU also includes the countries of Eastern Europe. Will your intention of rapprochement with Russia be understood in this part of the EU?

- It is surprising for me that Lithuanian president speaks about a fear of Russia, at the same time standing out from her colleagues, presidents of Latvia and Estonia, by a desire to harmonize relations with Russia. We remember her successful visits to Russia, we remember that Grybauskaite have always stressed maintaining good relations with Russia, including the economic ones.

We see new relations of Russia and Poland, which started after the tragedy near Smolensk. Polish president said: let us put aside stereotypes, let us not nurture Russophobia, let us think about practical things!

- Where does Russophobia start from in our country?

- It starts from Lukashenka.

- However in the period of active construction of the union state Russophobia was a prerogative of the right – the Belarusian Popular Front and so on. It means there is ground for that?

I would partially agree. Right national democrats have reasonably raised the question about history of the relations with Russia. We know that Belarus had often had a subordinate situation and often lost because of that. However, even in the period of Lukashenka’s peaceful relations with the Kremlin, Lukashenka attacked Russia when some problems in trade occurred. Russia’s patience has snapped probably. It was a serious move – to reveal how much Russia paid for Lukashenka’s regime. And they announced not to us, but to their voters, where the money from their pocket had been spent.

- Yushchenko was a Russophobe; the former Polish president was a Russophobe. Have they been mistaken? Should Russia be not feared?

- They proceeded from their policy. I proceed from my vision. I think that at this stage Russophobia won’t help any of the European states, let alone Belarus. Ideological approach should disappear. It’s true, Russia is an empire. We should understand that in the near future Russia won’t lay claims for membership in the EU, as Russia would remain a centre of power. It is an objective thing.

We should use this reality to our advantage and offer both Russia and Europe the model which would work in our common interests.

- Let’s sum up: understandable and clear rules of economy functioning, economy reforming. And what about world prices for energy resources?

- Surely. But I think that there would be a possibility to come to an agreement on some exemption period.

- Let us return to the election. When you and Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu announced that you create a “pre-election bloc”, you stated that your objective is not playing the game of elections, but a change of power. Don’t you fear being charged with extremism, riotous statements for violent change of power?

- No. I want to exercise my legal right for changing the power. And we only saw violence on the part of the authorities. All oppositional rallies have always had pronouncedly peaceful nature. I am an adherent of principles of non-violent resistance and deny violence completely. Changes should happen in a non-violent way, for the opposition to have a moral ascendancy.

There is the law and there is the right written down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that a person has a right to elect his government by an open secret vote without rigging.

- How will you struggle for that?

- I’ll do that through support of the people. I hope that over this very short period of campaigning I would be able to demonstrate that the people support an alternative leadership of Belarus, an alternative model, an alternative path of development.

- Will you be ready to come to “the Square”?

- Certainly. It is a legal right. I’ll make a reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. First of all, it is freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of agitation. As we are deprived of the access to TV, where we could explain our position; as long as I do not expect transparent vote count, it is the only possibility to demonstrate our point of view.

- Don’t you fear that there would be no free squares by that time? October Square could be shut for rebuilding…

- One cannot shut the entire city.