May 1 will be the test for the authorities.
One of leaders of the Belarusian Congress Mikalai Statkevich told in the interview with Belsat:
-Why have the EU delegation headed by Thomas Mayr-Harting, Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia in the European External Action Service decided to meet with you on Tuesday?
- First, I would like to start with thanks to Belsat journalists and independent mass media. Due to their courageous and dedicated position Belarus has learned about real position both of the people and the authorities. The people's position has become a real shock to the authorities. They acted like a child: the mirror telling the truth was broken.
Speaking of your question I do not know why they have decided to meet with me. I guess my kidnapping before the Freedom Day by the KGB and illegal detention for a few days played a certain role.
I'd like to recall that the "dialogue" between the West and the Belarusian authorities has started after the release of political prisoners, and mine as well. I think that Europeans want to show that the "dialogue" suspends as soon as new political prisoners appear in Belarus.
I'd like to thank European politicians for this position. I hope that the following message will be perceived by the authorities: if you keep suppressing peaceful protests (no policeman was hit and no glass broken by protesters), any "dialogue" will be ceased.
- Do you think western politicians have heard you?
- You know, the most pragmatic and the most disposed for a "dialogue" with Minsk politicians compose the delegation. But today they demonstrate their support and friendship towards the Belarusian opposition. I would say it was an amicable meeting.
I think they now see the situation in Belarus clearly and cannot but take into account the public opinion in their countries. When the EU citizens observe the way big guys in the uniform bought on their borrowed money beat and drag old people and girls on the ground they cannot ignore it.
I think that now the situation depends on whether new political prisoners appear in Belarus, on the way the framed White Legion case ends up with and what other actions of democratic forces result in.
I explained to the European politicians why we were going to appear on May 1 in the Kastrychnitskaya Square, Minsk. This is going to be a test for the authorities: if they try to use some sort of dispersal techniques again, I think they will fall across real sanctions. Anyway, there will be no hope for any funding on the part of the West.
- Why is it necessary to appear in the Square precisely on May 1 and what will be the format of the action?
- First, Labour Day is a public holiday. And it grounds on ordinary people and their work. Now people in Belarus do not have appropriate benefits for their work, they lose their jobs. Therefore, Belarusians have the right to work and a decent payment.
Social-democrats have always celebrated this holiday. But as soon as once tens of thousands of people followed our column during the rally at the Nezalezhnastsi Square and threw down portraits of Lukashenka, he banned demonstrations on May 1. May demonstrations were allowed even during the Nazi occupation unlike these days. This tradition should be revived now.
Besides, May 1 is the day of international solidarity. We hope the whole world will show solidarity with the Belarusians. May 1 is the day of Europe. Belarus is the part of it and we have the right to the same freedoms. We should preserve the freedom site in the centre of the capital. If it is in Minsk, it will be valid in the regions; people will be able to take central squares of cities as well. We won't let the authorities intimidate us.
Now the situation is as follows: either they authorize a peaceful protest on May 1 or they may wave goodbye to their so-called "real-politicians" in Europe. Moreover, to wave goodbye to their hopes for loans. If the variant with forced dispersal is implemented, at least our children will not be obliged to pay out other billions of European loans spent on the police, paddy wagons, German equipment for the riot police, anyway. Let them try to appear with this equipment on May 9 - it will become an alarm for the people. They will only prove their occupant nature.
- Will the experience of the Freedom Day be applied when preparation works to May 1?
- Yes, of course. I'm very sorry I failed to appear on the Freedom Day. This factor must be taken into account now as well. So, the safest format of the preparation works will be practiced. I ask people to come together on the Kastrychnitskaya Square on the side of the railway station, and we will have an opportunity to take an alternate course.
It's better to let people come together, otherwise, they may walk along the Peramozhtsau Av. in a northerly direction. It is right to meet in the centre because we don't have to move in one direction for long and the role of one leader in the action is not so significant. In addition, we will have "extra" leaders so that the action does not remain without a leader.
- Will the Belarusian National Congress or some other opposition organization be the organizer?
- The Belarusian National Congress is the coalition that really works and fights. People who want to fight the regime join it.
By 1 May we will prepare and distribute the BNC's theses. They are based on realities and interests of millions of Belarusians. So, the plan is simple: May 1, Kastrychnitskaya Square, Minsk! The more people join us, the sooner the issue of changes is resolved in Belarus.