Belarusians have a chance to alter their lives completely on March 25 and 26.
Coordinator of the European Belarus civil campaign Dzmitry Bandarenka told Charter97.org about that:
– On March 15, a 5 thousandth "March of Non-Parasites" was held in Minsk. Mass rallies were also held in Hrodna and Mahiliou. What is your impression of the last protest marches?
– The authorities cannot bring down the magnitude and geography of popular rising. It is clear that Belarus will no longer be the same. In any case, the situation has changed. The authorities are trying to use the old methods, but they don’t work any more.
The situation in the country has radically changed: everyone understands that people go to protest squarely against Lukashenka and his small clique of hangers-on. The opinion of the Belarusian people "Lukashenka, resign!" is heard not only by the dictator, but by Belarus and the whole world.
– On March 15, the rallies ended with tough detentions of some participants. How would you comment on the actions of the authorities?
"The authorities, as usual, act under board. First, the city "enforcer" came out to people in Hrodna, and another scandalous person, self-described as a member of the "house of representatives", – in Mahiliou. And then it was ordered to detain rally participants.
Thus, the authorities, as always, act under board. And the methods of detaining protesters can already be interpreted as a crime. Undoubtedly, this will be arbitrated by the courts of the new free Belarus. But according to the external evidence, when people in civilian clothes, without presenting their documents, forcibly take up people, beat them, regardless of their age, health and sex, and push them into cars without number plates, – that can definitely be qualified as kidnapping and abuse of authority. And these are quite serious articles of the Criminal Code.
– You have a huge experience of participating in street protests. What do you advise to do in such situations?
– Speaking about rallies, Pinsk could serve as an example here, when the people recaptured blogger Maksim Filippovich from the agents in plain clothes. People must immediately rush to assistance fellow protesters, shout "Police!", attract journalists’ attention, surround these people in civilian clothes. We must protect each other.
I even want to say that if the people, who attack, do not present their documents, physical force can also be used against them as self-defence. This option is quite possible in a mass situation.
When you are "in thrall", in the car, you should behave yourself as calmly as possible. It is worth trying to appeal to their human feelings and demand compliance with the law. If you see that this does not help, it's better to just remain silent until someone in uniform introduces himself and explains, what is happening. It is necessary to act so as the people in civilian clothes inflict you the minimal damage.
Secondly, it is necessary to keep track of everything possible: how these people look, what they call themselves, what car they drive, where they take you, who interrogates you first. And you must note in the interrogation report, that illegal methods have been used against you and that you demand an investigation. When the case is submitted to the court, they will pay attention to this. Even in Belarus, there have been cases, when the courts reserved judgements on the case or even canceled them due to such appeals.
– In Pinsk, protesting people demanded full lustration for all the executors of the illegal power’s orders. In your opinion, will it be possible to bring to justice all the civilian clothes attackers on people?
– I think, yes. I cannot say exactly, when it will happen, but the most odious ones will be dismissed from the office immediately.
I want to remind you that the names of several hundreds of Lukashenka's henchmen, who were under EU and US sanctions, are well known. The absolute majority of them are the so-called "Shuniavkas": employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the KGB, the people, who victimized the leaders of the Square-2010 and its participants, employees of the penitentiary system, the most intimidated chiefs of prisons and "zones", penal colony operational staff.
The Belarusian human rights organizations have collect a huge database on these people, who violated the law. And even more so, their names are known due the EU sanctions list.
Now the leaders of the opposition are turning to the European Union in order to return these sanctions, adding to the list new ungirdle militiamen and employees of the special services.
All these "Shuniavkas" do not understand that they are in deep water. They fall within the scope of Magnitsky law, which now has a universal character. It has already been adopted in the United States, it has been approved by the British Parliament. In December, the US Senate gave this law a universal character, extending it to other countries. The Anglo-Saxon justice is very reasonable, and the executors of the penitentiary system of Russia, officials and even business-related businessmen fall within the scope of Magnitsky law.
This law now extends to all the people and countries that grossly violate international obligations and their own laws.
I want to remind you once again: revenge is a dish that is served cold. When we found ourselves in the KGB prison after the elections-2010, I told the prison keeper during the interrogations: it's curtains for you, because there are a horse-load of journalists and writers here. You all will become characters of books, documentaries and criminal trials.
At that time, they were trying to laugh at this, but their names will go down in history for decades. Their children and grandchildren will be under constant pressure owing to what these people are doing. They do not fully realize this today. But we need to keep track of all these scumbags – smartphones are more than enough to do this.
– Mikalai Statkevich invited the ambassador of the United Kingdom and the US ambassador to Belarus to Freedom Day in Minsk on March 25 and assured them that the rally would be peaceful and non-violent. What would you like to say to the Belarusians on the cusp of March 25?
– I am sure that historical events will take place in Belarus on March 25 and 26. Belarusians have a chance to change the life in the country and their personal lives.
If few people take to the streets on March 25, then the mockery of cops and agents in civilian clothes will continue. If there are a lot of people, the changes in Belarus will start. The life of the Belarusians is in their own hands.
The only thing I want to say is: you have to be courageous and responsible. Therefore, you must invite your friends and acquaintances to the rally. First and foremost, men and young men must come to the Square.
I want to remind you that in many post-Soviet and post-socialist countries, after peaceful changes, the people, who had been participants in the protests, who had been in jails, came to power. The former political prisoners became the political elite.
Even in Ukraine today, more than half of the government and the Verkhovna Rada representatives are the people, who were active EuroMaidan participants. And whatever they say, there have been a lot of changes in the neighboring country.
But we, being inwardly calm, will achieve changes in a peaceful way.
At some point, the velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia started when the authorities suppressed a peaceful youth rally. Dozens of young people were arrested and beaten. And the Czechs and Slovaks rose to protect their children, and a month later there were already millions in the streets and the regime fell.
Now the situation is similar in Belarus.