21 January 2018, Sunday, 9:22

Zmitser Bandarenka: Proud to have Ukrainian blood in my veins


A wave of freedom from Ukraine will inevitably spread to Belarus.

Zmitser Bandarenka, a coordinator of the civil campaign European Belarus and former political prisoner, discussed the attack on protesters in Kiev with charter97.org.

“My father is Ukrainian. I am proud to have Ukrainian blood in my veins. The entire world admires the courage of protesters. Last night was a crucial moment, in my view. The democratic Maidan rally holds out. This night will mark the beginning of victory of democratic and European Ukraine,” the politician is confident.

The European Belarus coordinator noted he watched Russian television channels in the recent days. They depicted demonstrators as fascists armed with knives, knuckles, sticks and batons attacking peaceful policemen.

“Last night we saw an example of non-violent resistance. Thousands of police officers and riot policemen had to retreat facing the moral courage of Ukrainian freedom fighters. The attack on protesters was not as brutal as the dispersal of the rally in Minsk in December 2010. I know from my own experience that the Ukrainian security services and policemen are not Santa Clauses. In 2004, when my friends from the Zubr movement and I were returning from post-election protests, we were caught on the border on a train from Kiev to Minsk. They broke my arm during the arrest. We spent a day in a Ukrainian jail. We have information how Berkut riot police brutally beat detained people in buses and jails. So, it is important that leaders of democratic countries and international organisations are present at the rally,” the former political prisoner thinks.

Zmitser Bandarenka after the 2004 protests

Zmitser Bandarenka says he admires the courage of Belarusians who joined Ukrainians and came to the demonstration.

“The entire world saw that a Belarusian white-red-white flag was waving among Ukrainina flags over the last barricade in Institutskaya Street. A wave of freedom from Ukraine will inevitably spread to Belarus. We, Belarusians, should be ready to use our historical chance. Ukraine can join the European Union only with European Belarus,”, the politician is confident.

We remind that Berkut riot police made an attempt to storm the Kiev city hall building and break up the rally last night, but the police had to retreat meeting resistance from protesters.

The police suspended the attack in the morning. Street cleaners continue to dismantle barricades in the “cleared” territory, but don't move to protesters, observers say. Ukrainian opposition leaders call on the police not to obey unlawful orders and not to use violence against demonstrators.

People are coming to the square. About 30,000 people gathered on Independence Square near the stage and 30,000 people stand near the square, journalists report. More people continue to come. Taxi drivers take people to Kiev's centre for free.