24 April 2019, Wednesday, 7:57
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Andrei Sannikov: The National Tragedy of Russia

Andrei Sannikov

The West must take three effective steps.

Leader of the European Belarus campaign and ex-candidate for presidency Andrei Sannikov stated that to Charter97.org commenting on presidential "elections" in Russia.

- How do you assess the political event held on March 18 in Russia?

- Russia has faced a national tragedy, which cannot be called elections. Putin and his regime continue seizing power. One can only declare mourning on such an occasion.

- What are possible consequences of the fourth term of Putin?

- They are extremely dangerous. The maniac with nuclear, chemical, biological weapons, who is able to apply it anywhere in the world, is in power. One must take seriously the situation. Today only Western countries have some levers of influence on the situation.

The indecision of the West will now only increase danger to the world. The Russian opposition also should speak out. Despite odds, they must deliver a unified and, likely, joint assessment of these "elections" as invalid. It will be the ground for further activities.

First and foremost, the West should suspend congratulations and official recognition of elections. It should think of protection of itself and the entire world from the danger, which Putin's regime bears.

- What specific steps can the Western civilization take to protect itself?

-It was evident that Russia's influence was increasing in the West, that Putin's regime aimed to undermine Western institutions and the West itself as the community of democratic countries. At the same time, Putin is very much dependent on cooperation with the West and business there.

The energy independence and supply of energy without Russia's participation would be the most effective step. It would be a hard blow, because Russia is mainly afloat because of gas and oil.

The second is to urgently clear up the West from influence of Russian capital associated with the Putin regime. I understand that there is no strong desire to do it, because money has no smell and the West is accustomed to Russian money, but it does not make it free of influence of the Kremlin. These are not even sanctions, but the West's cleanup of the dirty money of puppets of Putin's regime. Policy-makers require cleanup as well.

The third, the democracy of our region needs assistance. It means more decisive assistance to independence and democratization of Ukraine and Belarus. One cannot but notice that there is a cooperative of dictators in the territory of the former Soviet Union, which targets against the West and its members are connected by mutual cover-up.

- What threat does Putin's fourth term bear directly for Belarus?

- Under Lukashenka the scenario of Crimea jeopardises Belarus. It will be the most logical option for Putin. Russian politics and Russian media are already taking the basic ground of Belarus. The blocking of the website "Charter-97" is the best way to help Putin to implement his plans for Belarus. And no dictator, like Lukashenka, will be able to defend our sovereignty, our independence.

Therefore, there should be clear support of democratic forces, decisive pressure on Lukashenka's regime for fair elections to take place in Belarus, and not like these organized in Russia and Belarus today.