23 September 2017, Saturday, 17:30

Jauhen Afnahel: The Era of Freedom Is Coming

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Belarus has stepped onto the way of irreversible changes.

Each time, each great undertaking needs a signal that attempts of enthusiasts are not wasted and they take the right way. One of the leaders of the Belarusian National Congress and the coordinator of the European Belarus campaign Jauhen Afnahel told in the interview to Charter97.org that we took the path of irreversible changes.

- This weekend you rushed from one place to another - from the Warning Action in Minsk to the festival in Lida. Did you feel like something different was in the atmosphere? Or was that the continuity of those events?

- The continuity between Minsk of September 8 and Lida of September 9 is an understatement. I would say that that was a true celebration of the victory near Orsha, not just the demonstration of the Belarusian spirit and Belarusian patriotism.

My friends and me were in Lida in the morning and the city welcomed us with white-red-white flags. People just put them on their shoulders, many wore Pahonia t-shirts.

Songs of Brutto, Lyapis, Lyavon Volski were heard across the city.

That day we met friends and acquaintances who had previously taken part in opposition's actions and have not changed their views. They approached, welcomed, congratulated us and each other on the holiday - the Day of Belarusian Military Glory. There was a feeling that we all came together again to finish a great business that had once started.

It turned out that the festival in Lida has become a natural continuation of the Warning Action held on September 8 in Minsk and the culmination of the celebration of our victory near Orsha.

- Being the leader of the youth and then the coordinator of the European Belarus you've been to Lida many times. Are there any significant changes in the atmosphere of the mass event?

- First, Lida has always been known by its freedom-loving and its Europe-oriented style. For a reason it is called the capital of Vejshnoriya.

I was pleased with several things there.

First - the atmosphere of freedom. I'd like to compare the events in Lida with those in Minsk on the Town Day. Some my acquintances got there and the picture there was completely different. There were a lot of police in the city center, many people came to the Town Day because there was no alternative vatiant. The city missed the sense of freedom that was in the air of Lida.

Second - thousands and tens of thousands of people who chanted "Long Live Belarus!" and other patriotic slogans. Those people were not afraid of approaching people with white-red-white flags, greeting them, congratulating with the holiday of military glory. And even if there were no national flags, perhaps, not as much as on protest actions the number of people who supported them were about 100% of participants of the festival. That day there were neither Russian nor pro-Russian, official symbols in Lida. That was the festival of Freedom, the festival of another Belarus, the country of our future. The era of Freedom of September 9 seemed like gave us a signal: it is coming.

Another important moment is that there was no person who negatively treated the Belarusian national symbols or patriotic slogans. No one. I have seen this for the first time in the history of mass events.

- Russia has sent its troops in Belarus, and Belarusians met it with a 100-thousand festival with white-red-white flags, songs of Volski and Vakarchuk. What does it mean?

- Tens of thousands of people who greeted our national flags and chanted patriotic slogans were the best response to those who hope to destroy our country and count on the fact that the Belarusians would meet troops of another state with open arms. Those who feel like it's a burr in the saddle.

In recent years the number of people who meet on the streets of cities with national symbols or speaks Belarusian clearly shows that there are much more adherents to an independent, free, European Belarus; this process is irreversible.

I am sure that these people will still have their say on the streets and squares of our cities and sooner or later they will take power in the country in their own hands.

- You mentioned a joke, or not quite a joke, about the Lida as the capital of Vejshnoriya... When will it finally cover the entire Belarus?

- Vejshnoriya and Belarus are already equal in size to me. I am convinced that the number of patriots of Belarus in Mahilyou, Homel, Vitsebsk is as large as in Brest and Hrodna.

People laugh at authors of West 2017 military exercises and the idiotic idea of Russian military who invented this definition and binded it to a specific territory. Second, Vejshnoriya has become the image of another Belarus - free, European, democratic, Belarusian Belarus.

I'm sure that this will become true soon. And it will be done by those young people who were in Lida and other places, where white-red-white flags are unfurled and "Long Live Belarus!" is heard. Those who take the streets of cities to defend the independence and who stand against a short-minded policy of the authorities.

I am convinced that this time is about to come and the festival in Lida proved it.