24 January 2018, Wednesday, 2:48

Andrei Sannikov: Belarusian society is looking at Ukraine with hope


Ukraine with the support of the EU has all the chances for democratic development.

The opinion came from a former candidate for president in Belarus, the leader of the European Belarus civic campaign Andrei Sannikov in an interview to Deutsche Welle. He assessed the events in Ukraine and the role of the EU and Russia in it. He told, whether the role model of Ukrainians inspire Belarusians.

- How would you assess the development of events in Ukraine?

- I think that Ukrainian authorities have already lost to the opposition. Viktor Yanukovych did not react, when it was still possible to control the situation, and now he has lost control over what is going on in the country. He will not be able to rule like he did before. So first the government will change and then the president. Apart from that, even if there is no pre-term election, there is a year until the presidential term expires by the law.

I hope for positive consequences of these changes, because a second important stage has started for Ukraine after the Orange Revolution of 2004. Its leaders then did not justify the trust and did not manage to create a reliable foundation for the country’s development. But now, as the civic protest in Maidan has practically grown into a revolution, the country has a new chance for changes.

- How does the situation in Ukraine influence the diversity of opposition forces – from moderates to radicals?

- By itself the diversity of opposition does not mean anything. This is a myth that the opposition should have a single leader. About half a million citizens came out to Maidan summoned by the heads of three different parliament parties. Of course, it is not easy for oppositionists to control the political process and keep the civic resistance in order not to miss the chance to achieve changes.

As to the role of radical opposition groups in Kiev and regions, it is strongly overestimated by certain media. And it is being done intentionally. These are not radicals who play the main part in Maidan. It should be taken into account that special services count on some part of them and use them for speculation purposes as provocateurs.

- Russia claims it is not intervening in the events in Ukraine, but at the same time tries to control Yanukovych’s behavior by suspending the provision of the promised loan of 15 billion dollars. Will the Kremlin be able to change the situation and use the events in Maidan with a benefit?

- They will not be able to change the situation. I do not rule out that the Kremlin may try to push for a kind of a violent scenario or launch an even dirtier propaganda campaign against Ukraine for its turning to the EU. But, firstly, it means to pass a verdict for himself for Yanukovych to use violence and bloodshed – the army will not support him. Secondly, it will speed up Ukraine’s distancing from Russia. Thirdly, one should not forget about the incredible solidarity with Maidan on the part of the international community. It will be difficult for Moscow to oppose that.

- How probable is the prediction of the inevitability of Ukraine’s division into the Western part, supporting the association with the EU, and the Eastern region, standing for a union with Russia?

- I deem unjustified the talks that Ukraine would split up into the Eastern and Western territories. I do not see influential political forces that would be able to lead a part of the country into Russian protectorate. All the Ukrainians stand for good relations with Russia, but they do not want to live by Putin’s laws.

The whole country wants to be independent – the East, the West, the elites and the people. Eastern Ukraine as well as Western is looking at Maidan with hope. That is why much now depends on the endurance of Ukrainians, who have already done incredibly much on the path of changes. They will hardly agree to the measure that would reverse the situation.

- What should be the EU’s role in the current situation in Ukraine?

- I would remind that once the inaction of European politicians allowed for creating a toughest dictatorship at the very center of Europe in Belarus. The example of Belarus inspired the regimes in Russia and Ukraine.

But Ukrainians rose against the authorities and their secret deals with the Kremlin. Now in the EU they started doing what should have long been done – seriously discussing a plan of assistance for Ukraine. This will be assistance not to Yanukovych, but to Euromaidan. Since it is Western money, the public supervision over its use will be transparent as opposed to money from Moscow.

- Is a burst of protest movement in Belarus possible like in Ukraine?

- We already had our Maidan – the protest of Belarusians, who came out in the streets of Minsk on 19 December 2010 in order to show their discontent with the authorities. But it was britallly suppressed, because there were not those significant factors that Ukrainians now have. Kiev’s Maidan was protected by the parliament members of parliamentary opposition, all the Ukrainian media got involved into the discussion of the events.

Belarus is not sleeping, it is run over. I would remind that Belarusian authorities will put on trial the football fans for the action of support to Maidan. But this only tells that the regime is watching in fear the development of the situation in Ukraine. The stronger the pressure, the harsher may be the outburst of public discontent. That is why I deem so important the factor of Europe and the West’s involvement into supporting the protesting Ukrainians. The Belarusian society is looking at Ukraine with hope too. If changes start there, they will change the situation in the whole Eastern Europe region.