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Andrei Sannikov: "We are the majority and we will obtain free elections!" (Audio transcript)

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Andrei Sannikov: "We are the majority and we will obtain free elections!" (Audio transcript)

"Andrei, You are our President!" – shouted people in the courtroom when Andrei Sannikov delivered his last word.

The prosecutor Anton Zagorovskiy demanded sentence of 7 years in high security prison for Andrei Sannikov.

Verdict on the trial of the Presidential Candidate will be announced on the 14th of May 16.00 in Partyzansky court (str Semashko, 33).

Here is the Andrei Sannikov’s speech in court.

Dear All!

I'm not going to analyze the charges that were brought against me. The trial clearly showed far-fetched and ungrounded accusations.

The events of December 19 and this process I see as a manifestation of fear from the authorities before the inevitable changes. This is their revenge for courage and openness.

In my case it is also a political reprisal against the Presidential Candidate who is the main contender to Lukashenko. I have managed to build a strong team of professionals, respected in our country and abroad and have declared my readiness to assume responsibility for our country. I was and will always remain a strong supporter of open and decisive actions to bring about a change to the existing regime in Belarus, but I always was and still am an advocate of absolutely non-violent actions.

I believe that everything that is happening at the moment is a pre-planned large-scale operation by the government. All events since December 19 confirm it, including Lukashenka's speech during the election campaign when he warned that " we will put everybody in their places after the elections". This is also confirmed by the statements of Makei, the Head of the Administration when he talked about the alleged proof of the upcoming armed provocations from the opposition, with the use of pyrotechnics and explosives.

In this case no evidence was presented, despite all investigations and operational surveillance conducted in particular in relation to me since summer of 2010. At that point, not only was I not a candidate but the decision to become a candidate was not yet announced.

It is worth remembering the statement of the CEC Yarmoshyna, who publicly declared that the rights and immunity of the presidential candidates ends at 8pm on December 19, rather than when the official results are announced. Thus, she in a way signaled to the police that they can do anything they want to the candidates.

This was also confirmed by the actions of law-enforcement agencies. They initially did not stop people who were breaking the doors of the Government building and did not detain offenders. So they created a sense of impunity. This is confirmed by a promise from the authorities to release those who will testify against the opposition candidates.

This was reaffirmed by the planned brutal crackdown on the peaceful protest when a large number of innocent civilians suffered injuries. It was also confirmed by a subsequent statement from Lukashenko who accepted responsibility for the actions of law enforcement agencies.

I express my deepest respect for those who stood by the truth. I am proud that I am here in the same cage with you - Ilya Vasilevich, Fedor Mirzoyanov, Oleg Gnedchik, Vladimir Yaromenka. I declare that thanks to them, there is more patriotism, more hope for the future of Belarus, more understanding of what is happening in the country in these cages, than in the whole of the governmental machine, that put them here.

As a result of their actions on December 19 the Government completely lost the trust of its citizens, good relations with its neighbours and the world community. The implications of this are evident now both politically and economically.

On the December 19 in Minsk a mass action of thousands took place, in which, I emphasize, the whole of Belarus participated. The vast majority of the citizens want change. This became evident during the presidential campaign. Millions of citizens put their trust to express their will in the tens of thousands of demonstrators who gathered on the square. Action on the Dec. 19 differed from the demonstrations that took place in Belarus after the previous elections - in 2001, 2006, 2008.

December 19, 2010 was not an action of protest, but an action of hope, because not only did we protested against the election fraud but also against the shameless plundering of people who had their vote stolen. We suggested the negotiation with the authorities in order to jointly find a way out of the crisis.

Instead of honest dialogue the authorities used force against the people. As it happened there was not a single honest official who would come out on the Square and talk to the people as did the Head of State in 1991. On the very same Square, in front of the same Government building, the dialogue then led to the independence and statehood of the country.

Proposal of a dialogue on Dec. 19, 2010 resulted in the beating of peaceful civilians, including Presidential Candidates. As a result, dozens of people today are detained and tortured, purged by the courts as a legitimate means of reprisal by the Government. Among them, my wife Irina Khalip, my close friends Dmitry Bondarenko and Alexander Atroshchankau, people who helped me in my campaigning, such as Dmitry Drozd. Many were forced to flee the country and seek political asylum.

We all want one thing - to live in our own country, participate in fair elections and not to fear for our lives or the lives of our loved ones. That's exactly why we are being tried today facing fabricated evidence from those who ignored the law. I want to warn all those who neglected the law today - you are bound to appear in court and incur deserved punishment. What's worse - you will inevitably have to look into the eyes of your children.

For more than a month I did not give evidence, being in the KGB jail, hoping that this nonsense would end and that some common sense would prevail. I went through torture, humiliation, threats, and, according to those so empowered I'm going to have to go through yet another ordeal. Nevertheless, I have neither hatred nor appetite for revenge. I still think that even today there is a chance to resolve the apparent political crisis through negotiations. It only needs one person to show courage and start following the law.

Once again I urge the court to deliver a fair verdict for the presented case. At the same time I want to draw attention to the fact that lawfulness is not the carrying out illegal instructions from the figures of authority, but compliance with laws and the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, the international obligations of Belarus. No officer has the right to demand others to break the law, no law may demand the punishment of the innocent, abuse of their human rights and humiliation of their dignity.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to all those who rendered me, and especially my family, moral support, solidarity and who helped to protect my son. I was deprived of the opportunity to thank people who helped me in my campaign. I want to do it today. I thank all those who supported me, who voted for me on December 19. It was very important for me to know that you all share my vision for the future of our country.

I know that we are a majority. I know that we will obtain free elections.

I love my family more than life. I love Belarus. I love freedom very much. I know that my family and all the people of Belarus will be happy when we become free, but this is impossible without law and order.

Zhyve Belarus! (Long live Belarus!)