22 May 2018, Tuesday, 5:18

Mikalai Statkevich: They’d Better Take Their Tanks-Shmanks And Go Away


The duty of every Belarusian man is to defend his Homeland.

The Belarusian National Congress is preparing the Warning Action to prevent the occupation of the country. The action is scheduled on 7 p.m. on September 8 in the Kastrychnitskaya Square in Minsk.

On the eve, one of the BNC leaders Mikalai Statkevich answered the questions of Belsat TV.

— Please tell us a little more about the plan of the Warning Action. How would it look like?

— The BNC published not the whole plan, but the elements of the action on September 8. And if you take a look at the websites of Belarusian independent media and do not see this plan, you can immediately make conclusions about what these media are worth in this situation.

And the plan that we have is quite simple: people should express protest and show determination to defend the country in the center of the capital. We will gather in the Kastrychnitskaya Square at 7 p.m., there will be a rally. Then, in order to remind the potential aggressors about the traditions of the Belarusian partisans, we will march to the Victory Square and the Victory Monument, where we will lay flowers to pay tribute to the Belarusian partisans of the Second World War. After that, we will head to the place where the ceremony of the Freedom Oath is to take place.

— You are going to hold the September 8 action several days prior to the official start of the Russia-Belarus joint military exercises West-2017. However, they say the exercises have already started.

— Yes, the exercises are already going on in our country. They are disguised as the drills of the military units. There have also been aviation drills already. You know, we have nothing against military exercises, armies should be trained, but the peculiarity of these very exercises is that our country has been entered by a significant contingent of the state which is currently at war with our neighbour Ukraine and at escalating conflict with our other neighbours-members of the NATO block. This is very dangerous. This is the potential involvement of our country in a military confrontation. We do not need it. It contradicts our Constitution, which says that Belarus should strive for neutrality.

There is also a high probability that these troops can leave the bases of their dislocation, then quickly return here. The option that the Russian troops will remain in our country is also not excluded.

We want to prevent the threat. It is better to prevent being involved in a war and the war itself, than to deal with the consequences later on.

The duty of men is to protect their home and country. We must warn the aggressors that we will do this. Let them take their tanks-shmanks, soldiers, train, run and get out of here, go home. And never return.

— Isn’t it too late to defend the things you are talking about? I mean, there’s nothing to defend, Lukashenka gave the country away long ago.

— We have formal sovereignty, and up to this time there have been no permanent military bases, with the exception of two so-called military facilities with a small number of military, on our land. It is most important. So far, there have been only the Belarusian military formations. So, as of today, Belarus has not been fully handed over, although our independence is sold in parts. And, by the way, the action will be a warning for Lukashenka as well.

— There is a research of pro-Russian moods in the army and it looks awful. The officer staff is rather pro-Russian ...

— Yes, the mood is more pro-Putin and anti-Lukashenka. We see that the situation may be worse than in Ukraine, if God forbid it will reach the extreme options. Only the Belarusian people themselves can protect Belarus. We must show this. I want to emphasize once again that it is better to demonstrate, declare, show that we stand against, that we are ready to defend the country if it is needed with weapons. You’d better stay away!

We probably will not be able to prevent their arrival, they are already here. Let them train in our forests, run, wander about and return home. Do not stay! If they remain here, we will regard this as the beginning of an aggression and defend our independence.

— The Ministry of Defense promises that no Russian military man will remain here by the end of the month...

— I don’t think the words of these “sveiks” should be regarded seriously. They say what they are ordered to say by their boss, and they will say something different the next day. These people have no dignity.

— If Lukashenka is thinking of some independence, why does he allows such close integration with the Russian army both outside and inside the country?

— Because Lukashenka has a mind of a collective farm chair. He is used to going to some district committee for a dotation and he turned our country into a huge collective farm with inevitable financial losses. He went to the Moscow district committee, took money and thought it was given for nothing. Like, lucky me! He blabbers about friendship, “real Russians with a quality mark” there and thinks they will pay for that.

And they pay, say “horsey, horsey” and take him on a leash.

As a result, our economy has become completely dependent on this drug, these subsidies. They can present us a bill any time, and they do it, somewhere quietly. They say: come on, go away or pay something, for example, with sovereignty. Lukashenka himself climbed into this pit and dragged our country there.

He led us into a very dangerous situation. This person will answer for it sooner or later.

— We have been told that he will answer for 23 years. But he continues to drag Belarus, as you say, into even more dangerous situations...

— He hears. When he was going to annex Belarus to Russia and head this enlarged Russia, we showed that independence will be protected. Then dozens of thousands of people went to the March of Freedom on October 17, 1999, and when they tried to stop them, stones flew. It was probably bad. There were dozens of wounded according to the official information, but after that, Lukashenka realized what awaits him. He began to talk about independence.

Now he is trying to slow down, but he got too deep in the 90's. He is eager to do something, but he cannot change his policy, because a collective farm chairman cannot build a modern economy where there are economic freedoms that are based on the law passed by the real parliament; where there is ownership, political freedoms, and the guarantee of independent courts. He does not understand this. He may be glad to change something, but he cannot. But he listens to us, believe me, he listens and is already afraid.

— Nevertheless, dozens of thousands of people do not come out to the streets now...

— Then the threat was obvious. People now, probably, have got used. They, like your colleagues, are looking for opportunities to survive. If some independent journalists are looking for comfort, then what to say about ordinary people.

Now a real threat is seen by a small number of people, those who can analyze, compare. We will see them on September 8 in the Kastrychnitskaya Square. The rest simply live their own lives, their problems. When the situation changes, we will see not only dozens of thousands of people in the streets, but I think that in case of a threat, we will see thousands of people who will defend the country.

There is a patriotic core that must take care of the country. When the threat becomes real, I think a lot more people will join this core. So far, it is the patriots who must say their word.

When we defended independence in the 90s, dozens of thousands did not always come out. Sometimes there were hundreds or thousands, but we continued to come out, and when it became clear that in fact the country was being handed over, dozens of thousands of people were behind us. They already knew whom to follow, who would protect this country.

— What is the situation with other opposition leaders, with their patriotism? Are they joining the action?

— You know, if there are any other opposition leaders apart from the Belarusian National Congress, we will see them in the Kastrychnitskaya Square. If no one apart from the BNC leaders comes, this will mean there are no more opposition leaders.

I also want to say that I am very often asked a question “What will happen if they arrest you preventively again?” Of course I will do my best to get to the Kastrychnitskaya Square. But I want to tell everyone in response to this question: a duty of every man is to protect his home and country. Am I the only man in the country? I don’t believe this. There will be many.