15 November 2019, Friday, 14:40
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Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy: The people of Belarus say „Basta!” to Lukashenka

Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy: The people of Belarus say „Basta!” to Lukashenka
Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy

An absolutely new situation has developed in Belarus.

This was stated in an interview with the Polish portal „wPolityce” (translation - Charter97.org) by the director of the TV channel „Belsat” Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy.

- In Belarus, there are numerous protests now. What is the cause of this discontent?

- The straightforward reason is a Decree № 3, according to which all unemployed people are taxed. Importantly, unemployment has significantly risen in Belarus, especially in the provinces. People cannot find a job, and now they have to pay a tax for this. A similar situation would have been in Walbrzych in the 90s in case if a tax on the unemployed had been imposed.

The main reason for the protests is the deterioration of the economic situation in Belarus. The country is in the recession for over the past two or three years. This can be confirmed by our colleagues from “Belsat”, especially by those who come from small provincial towns, where the situation is really dramatic.

You should also pay attention to the fact that the current protests are spread all over the country. There were protests in Minsk, Grodno, Mogilev and other cities, but they are especially intense in the provinces. People there are really brought to despair. These protests are an entirely new phenomenon, which does not resemble any other previous actions.

- What does this mean?

- Until now only those people who were oppositional to Lukashenka took to the streets to protest. One could say that always the same people were there. At the present time, it has become obvious that absolutely different segments of population are taking to the streets to protest. From the youngest to the retirees, workers and intellectuals. This is due to the feeling of hopelessness and despair.

I confess that this is the first time I see such a demonstration in Belarus. The participants of the protests are eagerly talking with journalists. You can hear the slogans: „Enough!”, „Basta!”, „We are not slaves!”. There are also slogans that refer directly to Lukashenka. People say that they are fed up with him, that this is enough and he should leave - „Lukashenka, go away!”.

It became a matter of honor. People believe that they are treated like slaves, that what is happening is absolutely beyond the scope of everything permissible. Nobody listens to them, officials are often unprincipled. Prices in Belarus are very close to Polish prices, but at the same time, salaries are at the level of 100$ - 200$ - 300$ per month. The situation is very difficult.

- We have very little information on what is happening in Belarus. Belarusian television speaks about the detention of anarchists. How does it really look like?

- Absolutely different people are among the arrestees. In total, about 160 people were arrested. After the action on March 15 - another 50 people. There were very burning shots. Our reporter was present at the protest in Mogilev. Some people in civilian clothes began to seize people. It looked as if they were ordinary passers-by. Real life dramas were played out there! Passersby defended the detainees, but those, after all, were arrested. It is not known where they were taken to.

In Grodno, a young man recorded a video of the events that took place on the bus. After the demonstration in Grodno, several „bulls” in civilian clothes began to restrain the guy, people tried to stop them, a minute later I saw that the guy, who filmed it, wrote in Facebook that he was also being arrested. There are plenty of such examples. Indeed, a large group of young people who were detained after the demonstration in Minsk are anarchists. Anarchists in Belarus are in many ways just a youth subculture. Someone correctly wrote on Twitter: „In the west, anarchists beat the glass and fight with the police, in Belarus, the police beat the anarchists”. This is the difference. The main expression of their anarchism was that they wore masks on faces and beat the drums. When the demonstration was dispersed, they were brutally detained. They were dragged along the ground, the girl was dragged by her hair. Detentions took place in Minsk and Brest.

- The protest in Minsk took place with the permission of the authorities, however, there were detentions. What did the authorities want?

- I admit that this is beyond my comprehension. On the one hand, these protests are legal, but on the other hand, people are detained. On the one hand, journalists are allowed to carry out their work without hindrance, on the other hand, the authorities conduct a real hunt for them. In Mogilev, a deputy of the „parliament” came out to the protesters and gave some comments to the journalist of “Belsat”. The guy, who took the interview, was summoned to court on some charge. I think that it was on a charge of „violation of traffic rules”. Our correspondent, who was conducting an online broadcast in Orsha, spent a night in prison and later was fined. Another blogger received 15 days of arrest. So, on the one hand, the authorities allow us to hold these demonstrations - on the other hand, they detain journalists.

The country is in a state of real chaos. Correctly saying: when God wants to punish someone - he takes away their mind. One need to completely lose touch with reality in order to come up with the idea of ​​creating a tax on „parasitism” at a time when unemployment is growing. They think that in the country there are only sharks of the shadow market who do not pay taxes. In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of poor, desperate people. These are people who take loans to buy shoes. It's amazing that not only the Belarusian authorities are completely detached from reality. Our knowledge on this subject is also practically zero. In Belarus it is not as good as it is shown here. It is really bad there, and now it is getting even worse.

- What situation is Lukashenka currently in?

- In my opinion, his situation in recent years is really terrible. His people, who find themselves in a very difficult situation, tell „Basta!” to him. I do not fully understand what is happening. But what is happening is fundamentally different from what was before. Ordinary people, sometimes Lukashenka's electorate, say that they are fed up with him. I wonder if he would have the slightest chance of winning a fair election? I am convinced that no. People tell him „Go away”, and behind him there is Putin. He does not know how to deal with Putin. There is no money, the economy is absolutely collapsed.

The bet on Lukashenko in Poland is absolutely unjustified. What can he give us? Now the government is in crisis, attempts for a dialogue with such a power are deprived of any pragmatic and political logic.

- Are you concerned about the fact that in the West almost no mentions are made of the current situation Belarus?

- This is alarming. Nevertheless, it is known that the ideas of a „reset” came not only from Poland. They are also ideas of the West. It is not by chance that the OSCE summit is announced in Belarus, where protests are held for already a long time, even in cities that never had any protests. Understanding of what is happening behind our eastern border is extremely weak. It was Poland in the current situation that was supposed to carry the „fire of enlightenment”, but, to my great regret, this is not happening.