25 September 2018, Tuesday, 5:07
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Aliaksandr Dabravolski: Charter’s Ideas Supported By Millions In Belarus


Society always defeats a dictatorship. You just need to help people believe in themselves.

The website Charter97.org continues publication of a series of interviews with the people who created the Charter'97.

Former deputy of the Supreme Council of the USSR, member of the Political Council of the United Civil Party, director of the Eastern European School of Political Studies Aliaksandr Dabravolski is answering our questions today.

- Mr. Dabravolski, we know that you played a huge part in the creation and work of the initiative Charter’97. Please tell us how it all started.

- It all started with the fact that a large number of people came along, who saw Belarus as a different country. We wanted the state to be democratic, so that people's rights and freedoms were respected in it, so that power would be for people, and not vice versa.

The idea of this initiative was offered to me by Dzmitry Bandarenka. We talked and decided that this is a very interesting idea. The initiative was supported by more than 100 people. The text was developed so that people who agree with the principles of the Charter'97 initiative could sign it.

Over 100 000 Belarusians signed the document. It was an idea to create a community of people who could work together, establish communication between them. Not everything worked, but the Charter'97 left its mark in the Belarusian society, and I think that the fact that people can receive independent information from the Charter'97 website is a very positive and significant achievement.

- In your opinion, why did the civil initiative Charter’97 manage to unite such a great number of absolutely different people?

- The text of the document signed by the Belarusians was a kind of manifesto of the people who wanted Belarus to be a European, democratic, civilized country. The fact that these ideas are supported by millions in Belarus is not a secret for anybody, but it is difficult for them to unite because of the differences in other issues.

I believe that the Charter'97 was a declaration of the right principles and goals, that is why so many people signed it.

- The Charter’97 always stood for the democratic changes in Belarus. In your opinion, what needs to be done to achieve this today?

- People support democratic ideas, but do not know that they have become a majority. I believe that we need to help our people understand that they are in the majority. Belarusians should realize that the situation is completely different from what they are trying to show on Belarusian television.

We need to help people overcome their fears, help them remember their own dignity. Only then can they feel like real citizens of their country.

This is very hard work, because our information resource is much less than the government’s. And the people who came to power in Belarus use their position for personal purposes. But society always defeats dictatorship, it is only necessary to help people feel this hope. This is the task of every Belarusian, every politician who wants democracy in Belarus.

- As a person who stands at the origins of the initiative, what would you like to wish to the website Charter97.org?

- I would like to wish successful work to those people who make this site. Very often, theCharter'97 is the most operational resource, a website with the largest audience. At various times there were publications that collected up to one million views.

The Charter'97 is not perfect, I would not say that this is an ideal resource, but I would like this site to continue its work so that it and other media help Belarusians understand that we have a European perspective. I would like to wish all the people who work on this resource success, so that the changes for which we all stand come to our country.


On November 10, the Belarusian civil initiative Charter'97 marks the 20th anniversary. On this day, a document was published, which stated that it was necessary to be solidary and jointly resist the dictatorship. Many well-known Belarusians supported the initiative, among them - Vasil Bykau, Nil Hilevich, Henadz Buraukin. Over 100 000 people signed the Charter.