After his decision to run for presidency, the first interview Andrei Sannikov gave to Belarusian bloggers.
The interview based upon questions asked by Belarusian bloggers was prepared by Nikolai Khalezin.
Bacian: What are you counting upon?
Not on what, but on “whom”: on myself, my family, like-minded persons, friends, classmates… I count on Belarusians.
Hurnievic: Are you right, left, a centrist, a monarchist, etc?
I am a right centrist. And I was playing basketball in the same position.
Motva: what is your experience of work at leading positions?
[I was a] deputy foreign Minister; the head of Belarus’ delegations at talks on conventional and nuclear disarmament with a right of signature on behalf of the Republic of Belarus; Co-chairman of the Coordinating Council of the Democratic Forces.
Shodman: What have you done for Belarus?
I am promoting Belarus worldwide as the best place on Earth, explaining that at the moment we are “just a little sick”. Since 2005, after “Free Theatre” appeared, it has become easier.
I have built a house (more than one), planted a tree (more than one), and raised a son (more than one).
g_rub: What grounds do citizens Sannikov, Bandarenka and others have to pose as “coordinators of the civil initiative Charter’97”, to carry out activities on behalf of “Charter’97 press-centre”, to consider the website charter97.org to belong to them as “a corporate portal” of this initiative, while the Charter’97 signed by more than 150,000 citizens of Belarus did not imply in obvious or concealed way delegating of authority for “coordinating activities”, creation of “press-centres” and “corporate portals” using this brand?
Charter’97 existed in the form of a civil initiative till 2005. Now it is simply Charter’97. The trust of people who had signed Charter’97 demanded actions, not words. Out of 120,000 of signees I know only 8 persons and one nick who challenge the actions of its coordinators.
Aliaksei: When Charter’97 website will stop stealing articles from other sources and censoring comments?
I am not engaged in the work of the website. It is my firm belief that professionals must work in media projects. Personally I am satisfied that I can read in a concentrated form articles about events in Belarus and opinion of the world press about our country at the website. As far as I know, The New-York Times does not object either.
One shouldn’t confuse censorship and moderating. If you do not like the website, do not visit it, or create your own, which would be more popular.
tiradorrus: What are financing sources of the Charter’97 editorial office?
I think they are extremely insufficient. I am often asked when the news about Belarus in German, French and Persian could be read. As there are no such versions, it can be understood that the website does not have enough resources for further development.
Aliaksei: Who are members of your pre-election team and how positions in the government would be allocated in case of your victory?
Our team consists of professionals.
4izkemerovo: Do you believe you can win?
Together with Belarusian bloggers – yes, we can win.
Aliaksei: Do you have an election platform, and if yes, where one can become acquainted with it?
It is to be finished in the near future. The strategic aim is building a normal state, accession of Belarus to the European Union, guaranteeing of European living standards in the shortest possible term, and not in the long run.
4izkemerovo: By which forces are you going to collect 100,000 signatures?
In due order, by forces of a powerful initiative group, which is being formed already.
Shodman: Where is the good of democracy for Belarusians? Does it have any value for the majority of the country’s citizens?
The question sounds rather strange: are you asking what is the democracy for THEM? To my mind, democracy is really a value for citizens of any country, as it gives them a right of choice. I do not imagine how this normal life we see in Europe could be guaranteed in any other way.
Aliaksei: Could state censorship and stealing be expected by us in case you become a president?
You have precisely characterized the system existing today, and which I want to change.
ha_ga_ne: What laws and bylaws adopted by the present government would be revoked by you?
Reform of the entire political and economic system would be held. As the main aim I see restorations of the principle of separation of powers, reinstatement of an effective parliament and guaranteeing independence of courts. Without return of independent press, its influence and control over activities of the state it is impossible to build a free society.
Verkeus: What policy would you pursue in relations with Russia?
A strong one. Proceeding from our national interests, and considering interests of our neighbours. We need Russia very much, as well as Russia needs us. It creates a basis for effective relations, and not for petty conflicts we are observing today.
Shodman: Are you ready to ignore opinion of Europe and Russia for good of our country?
The main principle of diplomacy is finding constructive decisions, and not ignoring opinions of partners. In this way it’s easier to ensure the good of the country and take into account the national interests.
Aliaksei: What is a possible future of citizen Lukashenka and his entourage?
It is to be decided by an independent court on suits from citizens.
Verkeus: Will you change the national symbols again?
Definitely so. But I will not change, but return it. All the neighbouring countries have returned their historical symbols, and distorted Soviet ones have been left in Belarus. And hence is the result – the way we live.
ha_ga_ne: Will there be an amnesty proclaimed, or on the contrary, an open investigation of crimes of officials at all levels?
It’s a prerogative of independent courts. An amnesty, compensations and restoration of rights should concern all who had been hit by arbitrary actions of officials.
Aliaksei: Will rectors and deans of universities who had been persecuting students on political grounds be brought to responsibility?
Former rectors and deans who were engaged in political persecution could be subject to responsibility, but I think in any case they it would not be easy for them both in Belarus and abroad. In many Western countries when visa is issued, such a detail is taken in consideration as activities aimed at persecution of dissenters. If there are facts confirming such activities, visas are denied.
However, every person should have a right for repentance and forgiveness.
Unutranyholas: Will light drugs be legalized and will citizens receive a right for firearms carrying?
Maybe it’s your formula of happiness, but I am living in the real world.
malinov_ski: Is it true that you have received a flat in the house where KGB workers had been given flats?
It is not true. I have never been given a flat or demanded it, though I had a right for that probably. My flat was bought in 2002 with the help of my family, in the five-storey building of Khruschev’s era, at a sensible price.
ha_ga_ne: Will law enforcement bodies (army, militia, KGB) be reduced?
Of course. Army is a special matter. It has already been significantly reduced. It is necessary to go into issue of its functions and then define its optimal strength. Militia, especially its special detachments, will be reduced and will serve people, not criminal groupings. For example, what do we need so many special task brigades for? We will move to Europe, uncontrolled militia will be replaced with European police controlled by society.
Verkeus: If the US proposes deployment of its military objects in Belarus, will you take an individual decision, agree the proposal with the parliament, or put it to a referendum?
This question won’t be raised under me.
Aliaksei: Will state property, which is now being sold at dumping prices to dubious “investors”, be nationalized?
The issue is very serous. Each particular case is different. If anything useful is made, investors will go on their work.
Shodman: Do we need a nuclear power plant? How should a problem of energy dependence be solved?
Maybe we need it, but not under Lukashenka. Under the current power, every “construction of the century” is accompanied by loud scandals and prison terms. Construction materials are being stolen, design requirements are not being fulfilled, constructions are being finished in a rush. Imagine if a nuclear power plant will be built in the same way. How can we speak about security here? What concerns the problem of energy dependence, Belarus and the EU will work on it together.
Verkeus: Will you create equal conditions for all citizens of the country to start their business or impose national or confessional preferences?
Equal conditions for small and medium-sized business will be created. Besides, I think that technological breakthrough is possible in Belarus only if global brands come in the country. Our door will be open to them.
Shodman: In your opinion, should Belarus preserve blue chips in state ownership?
It certainly should. But only at the first stage. Then the share of the state should be reduced.
Verkeus: Who will rule country during your term of presidency – you or your wife? Will she get a ministerial post or a post in the ideology sector? Will she oppose the authorities?
I don’t lay my work on women.
Appointing a journalist to a governmental post is killing a journalist. Ira likes her job. As the opposition will be formed of remaining Lukashists, she won’t be with them.
Verkeus: As it is not realistic to change a lot during one presidential term, will you go for a second, and then a third term?
It is realistic to change much during one presidential term. The main thing is to lay the foundations of development, not of stagnation. This is what will happen.
Shodman: What should a president do in Belarus to improve a standard of living?
He should give people the freedom to live, work, run a business. To free and encourage private initiative. To attract leaders of world’s economy to Belarus. Belarus has to become a significant part of powerful European economic center.