The Belarusian Presidential candidate gave an exclusive interview to the website charter97.org the next day after his release.
- During the entire history of Lukashenka’s Belarus, from all thousands of political prisoners, you are the only one to have gone through the worst: tortures, humiliation, blackmail with the murder of your wife and son, seven transfers to different prisons, solitary cell, complete isolation… Why do they treat you so hard?
- Probably I’m not the one to answer this question, and I don’t think I have had it worse than the others. Today the violence against political prisoners has no limits, and that is why the torments that I have gone through, that the others are going through now are unprecedented. It is not their goal to make us appeal for something, to acknowledge guilt. It is much more frightening; they seek our physical, moral destruction. Why is it happening? Once again, I’m not the one to reply. I am convinced that this entire practice will be condemned.
- You managed to tell about the tortures in court, then through your wife and lawyers. Is there something we don’t know?
- I think I have no right to give the details of what was happening to me because my family, co-workers, people who share my views remain hostages. I know from my own experience that any incautious word can be used against them.
I can only say that, in my view, the goal was to destroy me physically, to make me commit a suicide by a termless hunger strike, to make my physical elimination look like my own decision to die. I’m afraid the same is happening with Siargey Kavalenka and other political prisoners…
- In other words, the methods of the special services have not changed since 1937?
- When I say that the violence has no limits, I mean that the special services (and not only them) have gone much farther that their colleagues from the Stalin times. The disgusting methods used in Belarus today against political prisoners weren’t used even then.
- Don’t you think that this is Lukashenka’s personal revenge on you, his superior competition?
- Undoubtedly, I can see a personal motive. But to be honest I welcome his decision to pardon me, Zmitser Bandarenka and – I hope – all other political prisoners. I know it was not an easy decision for him to take.
- And why do you think he did that?
- The answer is obvious: this is the result of the actions of the European Union. But I would like to emphasize that it is only due to the solidarity of the Belarusians, families of the political prisoners, our friends, in fact the entire country, that influential international institutions have introduced clear and straight politics regarding Belarus in the decisions.
- There is a lot that we want to ask you, but we do realize that it is impossible in only one conversation. Can you give your evaluation to 19 December 2010, the election and the events of that evening on the Square?
- I would say that the events of 19 December gave all of us an immense rise of emotions which the powers turned into a most terrible tragedy of the recent years. I still believe that at that moment there was a possibility to start a substantial dialogue that would lead Belarus from the dead end. But among the officials there was not a single brave man ready to take responsibility. I don’t think this question can be answered briefly. This is a subject for a whole different conversation.
- Andrei Olegovich, it was a fateful day of your life. You were thrown to prison, your wife Iryna Khalip also was arrested, you nearly lost your son, almost all members of your election headquarters were repressed. Don’t you regret your decision to become a candidate?
- The question is not completely correct. There was no other decision. On the other hand, this is a correct question, since nothing tormented me more than the lives of my family and friends. But I don’t see my guilt in that because I’ve been and will always remain a faithful supporter of non-violent actions. And the little joy I had in the KGB prison was from the conditional release of my wife, Natallia Radzina’s escape from the repressions, my friends avoiding arrests. In the KGB prison I was kept away from the news about my friends’ leaving abroad, but when I got some pieces of information through the walls I was happy.
- Andrei Olegovich, what would you like to tell the people who voted for you, who fought for your liberation?
- I never expected this level of solidarity, support, human warmth, such active participation in the fate of political prisoners. I would like to repeat: this is what caused such a pressure on the regime, which led to my liberation and should lead to liberation of all other political prisoners in the near future.
- Will we fight again?
- Long Live Belarus!