21 January 2018, Sunday, 19:59

Sannikau: I will be looking for friends for my country


Principal stand is lacking today not only in Belarus but in Europe as well.

The leader of the European Belarus civic campaign, former presidential candidate, Andrei Sannikau gave to Radio Svaboda.

- When first news came out that you were in London, there was ambiguity in the media – you just asked for a political asylum in Britain or received it already?

- I received an asylum.

- How did you feel that it that it was necessary to leave Belarus?

- It was that every day I faced total shadowing on the part of the special services: the apartment, phones, computer, even skype were listened. There was a need to decide: whether to stay and just live a private life or to leave in order to work.

- In your first interview from London that you gave to Charter’97 you pointed out that your decision will help the real liberation of your “wife and son who remain hostages of the Lukashenka’s regime”. How your leaving can help them?

- In Belarus we remained one-to-one with the circumstances. There was no one to expect help from. It was obvious that the pressure and provocations will acquire a regular character. I think that my departure will help since now I am under protection of an influential European country, and that means that my family is under protection too. There are international obligations which concern the families of the people who ended up abroad and received an asylum there.

In Minsk it is difficult to help. When you do real things, even greater threat appears, even a physical threat, for the family. Today I am free and I have already started meeting politicians and civic activists. I tell everyone about the situation, ask for my family to be mentioned everywhere and for the obligations that Belarus took to be observed, even the promises that were given for no particular reason but in front of the BBC TV cameras.

- But it has not gone beyond promises of the Belarus’ ruler to the British media so far, has it?

- It has not. I did not tell I received an asylum since I was waiting for Iryna’s case to be settled. I did not believe the promises but I considered that it would be impudence to lie so openly about possible liberation of her off all the restrictions.

- “I want to return to the country as the soonest. If there is benefit of me for the country then, obviously, I would accept certain suggestions” – that is what you said to the Reuters agency. Which possible suggestions and from whom did you mean?

- The interview was quite long and only the excerpts were show drawn out of the context. I was talking about me participating in the new government and the processes that will be happening in the country, when the country becomes free. Of course I will.

- While waiting for an opportunity to return, you, supposedly, are not going to just sit without doing a stroke. What are you planning on doing at the new place?

- There is plenty of what to do, what to read, what to write, what to speak about. I will keep boing the same I used to do. I am a diplomat. One of my teachers once said (and I am sticking to that principle): one should look for friend for one’s country.

- I will not speculate particular figures and sources, but there are grounds to assume that at the elections 2010 you came second. It will unlikely be an exaggeration to say that hundreds thousands Belarusian citizens voted for you. You have really earned a noticeable political asset – what to do with it now?

- I felt that asset behind the bars in the way the prison guards behaved, who tried to make me lie at the questionings, who put huge pressure on me. I felt that after being released as every day as I left my apartment people would greet me. By the way, one of those who greeted me, who had my telephone number, called me and said that KGB agents talked to him… Yes, it was my and my team’s political asset as we suggested the alternative which still exists today and has to be applied in BELARUS.

My team had and still has the support of people.  We will implement the alternative. Quite an interesting and acute discussion over Belarus has started and we will also participate in it and suggest our approaches. It is obvious that we all have to look for a way out of the situation.