The leader of the European Belarus walked in the unity rally, held in Paris on January 11.
At least 1.5 million people, including the EU leaders, marched in anti-terrorism rally in France. Andrei Sannikau, the leader of the civil campaign "European Belarus", a former political prisoner and the candidate for the presidency in 2010, was among those marching.
The politician was interviewed by charter97.org on the phone from Paris.
-Andrei Alehavich, why did you join the unity rally in Paris?
-There are a few reasons. This is a European protest against violence, terrorism, held not only for freedom of the press but also for freedom of citizens and States. I always asked to show solidarity with freedom fighters in Belarus. We must also express solidarity when tragedies of this scale happen in other countries.
-How do you estimate the level of solidarity of French society?
-There are so many people. It's amazing. I am here together with my friend Leanid Navitski, a member of my team. It's nice that the team is united and we defend the same principles and values.
It is a great rally. We were in the midst of it, in the lead of the column. Everyone sings “La Marseillaise”, there are a lot of French flags, and flags of other countries, including Muslim ones.
There one can feel the unity. Despite people gathering, there are no crowds. If someone accidentally disturbs you, then he is sure to smile and apologize. People have united against violence, barbarism.
-Estimating the Paris tragedy, some called it a religious-based dispute; some called it a clash of civilizations, the others told about the end of multiculturalism in Europe. What do you think?
I am not interested in the cause estimation. The tragedy is that journalists were slaughtered. We would live in another country, if we reacted journalists' slaughter like that.
The most important issue now is to advocate the press. And this is the joint not only in Paris, but also in Belarusian armour. Therefore, I'm here today with Aleh Biabenin (the founder of charter97.org-editor's note), who was killed on the eve of the presidential elections in 2010. That was one of the reasons why I arrived in Paris.
-What is going on with the world? Russia is waging war, the number of extreme right organizations is increasing in Europe, and such terrible acts of terrorism are occurring…
Journalists' slaughter in Paris, the dictatorship in Belarus and the Russian aggression in Ukraine are tarred with the same stick. So this is the most difficult time for democracy, freedom and all those values we'd like to put our lives on.
Therefore, this Paris rally is of great importance. I hope its spirit remains. Non-acceptance of the slaughter of civilians, like this in Paris, means the denial of a modern world's challenges and an infringement of freedoms and values.