20 November 2017, Monday, 5:10

Ales Stankevich: There Are People Ready To Defend Belarus Today

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Those who go to street action today, will defend the country's independence tomorrow.

Retired Major of the Belarusian Army Ales Stankevich told in an interview with the website of the Belarusian National Congress about the oath of the Belarusian Association of Military People and about the threats posed by the military exercises West-2017.

– This year marks the 25th anniversary of the famous oath of allegiance to Belarus, which took place on September 8, 1992. Do you remember this day?

– September 8 is the Day of Belarusian Military Glory, the anniversary of the victory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania's troops over the Moscow invaders near Vorsha in 1514. Therefore, it was on this day that the adoption of the oath of allegiance to independent Belarus was organized. This event took place in 1992. Recruits had already taken an oath at that time, the text of which was approved by the Supreme Council. Officers, however, remained under oath to the Soviet Union, since they joined the army even before its crush. That caused serious concern among those people who understood what military service was.

At first, we raised the question of taking the oath in the mass media. We explained why it was necessary and how much. It was decided that the public oath of allegiance to Belarus should be dome on September 8, on the Day of Belarusian Military Glory. Thousands of people gathered at Nezalezhnastsi Square. There were many officers, sergeants, soldiers and reserve soldiers. Many in the dress uniform. There were people from other cities of Belarus. After that, 12 officers led by Mikalai Statkevich entered the square. Zianon Pazniak, Mikhas Tkachou, Vasil Bykau made their speeches.

The solemn taking of the oath took place – first, Mikalai Statkevich read its words aloud standing in front of the line of officers, who were members of the Belarusian Association of Military People, after that, the military on the square signed the text of the oath.

– Even on the photographs and video one can see that it was a breathtaking event...

– It was a symbolic event, but a very important one. The people who came to the square, paid their respect to Belarus and expressed their readiness to defend its independence.

For me, this oath is the main, higher event in my officer's life. I took the oath to the USSR as a cadet, and now I swore an oath to my dear Belarus. It was very important for me and for my friends who were around. I remember September 8, 1992 as an event that gave a handle to pride to all of its participants. I emphasize once again that that oath remains the most significant for me.

– Now a lot of Belarusians are concerned about the Russian aggression in Ukraine and the forthcoming joint exercises in Belarus. How dangerous are the West-2017 exercises for our country?

– The presence of a foreign army in an independent country is always a threat. Even schoolchildren understand this. And considering how inadequate and double tongued the leadership of the neighboring state is, everything can turn into a dangerous side. We must be prepared to various outcomes of the situation. There is danger, and the danger is serious. The number of Russian troops that are taking part in the exercises is too great. They might leave them here afterwards, referring to allied treaties, for example to protect the border or some other objects.

– Then, in 1992, it was clear how to defend the country's independence. What about today? Is there anyone to protect the country in case of aggression?

– I am already 70 years old, at best I can be a consultant, an adviser. It is important that what was done then has yielded fruit. I look at today's youth, at those who go to street rallies, who will be on the square on September 8. I see their eyes and their determination and understand that today there is someone to protect the country.

Today there are people who are not indifferent to the fate of the country, who understand the danger that it faces. There is someone to take an example from – from those who won a victory near Vorsha, who stopped the invaders before and after. I am sure that among the young people who know the history, who are not indifferent to the fate of the country, there are enough people who will defend Belarus – in the same way as they defended it from Ivan the Terrible or from Hitler. Fight for freedom and independence together. The only thing I would like to wish them is health and confidence. Do not give up and do not fold your wings!

We remind that on September 8, at 19.00, the prevention rally demanding the abolition of the West-2017 exercises will start at Kastrychnitskaya Square in Minsk.