Belarusians can still surprise themselves.
Сharter97.org continues the series of interviews with "iron people" of Belarus . This time we talked to the wife of a famous politician Mikalai Statkevich Maryna Adamovich:
- Marina, you are a person with a clear civic position, tell us what has an impact on your life choice?
- In my case, it was a school teacher of Belarusian language and literature Anfisa Ivanauna Pylchenka. The first step towards my true "me" was made at the secondary school. Before that I was not lucky enough with teachers. Almost all of them were trainees or pensioners.
Anfisa Ivanauna offered me to read the novel "Heads under Your Reaping Hook" by Uladzimir Karatkievich.
I had to read it and to write an essay. This book was a turning point in my life. There were other books, for example, "The land under white wings" by Karatkievich. But the first one was special. I was a teenager and that novel put everything in my head in its place: who I am, where I come from and why.
Moreover, my choice influenced the choice of my parents. My mother taught Russian language and literature for more than 30 years, but in the 80s she started teaching Belarusian language and literature, she had good education. She told me that she was completely satisfied with things she was doing. Mom was very touched by the way schoolchildren treated Belarusian language and how they rushed to speak and read Belarusian, and was unpleasantly surprised by resistance of many parents and colleagues.
I do not consider myself a public figure, I would say I'm an ordinary person with a civic position.
I sought every sign of the Belarusian. I had almost no chance to find the information I needed then. There were so many questions to answer. I tried to get into the Lenin Library, but only students were welcomed there, not even freshmen.
Only later books of Lastouski, Yermalovich became available.
My groupmates tried to speak Belarusian. Then "Belaruskaya Mastrounya" was established. I was not in the club, but I was happy to take part in events they organized in Minsk, Zaslaul, Vyazynka.
I remember Crepe Week of 1983 and Kupala Night on Yanka Kupala Park in Minsk. They were organized by students. They were so serious and a bit portentous. They were the first to do it.
I still remember the feelings I felt then. In the late 80's and early 90's there was a sense of one great holiday and a great desire and expectation of changes.
At that time there were live broadcasts of sessions of the Supreme Council. People thoroughly followed the news. Everyone had hope for great changes. It was a wonderful time.
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were large-scale marches, rallies, people with white-red-white flags appeared on the streets of Minsk. I took part in every event then.
We had the feeling that we would succeed.
- We know that you have already been asked this question many times, but let's repeat. Tell us how did you meet Mikalai?
- I usually ignore personal questions (laughs). It was long ago, when public activity was boiling. At that time many public initiatives and events took place in the House of the Writer.
We met due to our common friend Mikola Mikhnouski. At that time Mikalai was the chairman of the Belarusian Association of Military People (BAMP is a social and patriotic movement in the 1990s that united the Belarusian military people on a democratic basis), an organization that very declared about itself during and after the GKChP.
Our common friend kept saying about a good person. That is, I heard and knew about the BAMP, about Statkevich; there was a ground for our acquaintance, but I, as a stubborn person, am always skeptical about things other people say. I rely on my impressions.
As you know, if we know each other for so many years, it means that my impressions were positive. First I believed him as a strong man and politician, and then I found out other his qualities.
- There is the novel "Love Lasts Three Years" by Frédéric Beigbeder. Your couple proves that it's wrong; you were waiting for the Mikalai's release from prison for long five years. What did give you strength?
- Everyone who loves will cope with it. After all, we have our own sources of strength and reasons. My experience shows that loves gives me strength. The need for a loved one, the understanding that one needs you and no one can help him like you.
Strictly speaking, Mikalai and I have always been in touch. There was no feeling that he was somewhere far away. We think in the similar way, can be silent for hours, and then start speaking on the same issue simultaneously. We used to write letters of the same content. For example, you ask a question and receive a letter with an answer in a day or two. Or we start reasoning about something and receive a letter on the same topic.
I always know what happens to him. I felt when something was wrong. Even lawyer knows about this peculiarity.
Unfortunately, soon after the trial of Mikalai my mother passed away. It was a huge loss for me.
My son and my friends rendered me the greatest support. They are people of my inner world - relatives of political prisoners.
It would have been really hard to cope will it all alone.
In addition, these are dozens oreven hundreds of people who rendered their support. I do really appreciate every food parcel I sent to Mikalai, because these wonderful people helped me to collect them.
Many strangers approached and said: "Maryna, hold on". I have something to be grateful for.
- Is the proverb "it's neither my headache nor my piece of cake" true for Belarusians?
- People differ, but after 19 December 2010 and those shameful trial, the support was enormous. Although seedlings of freedom were again suppressed in the country, and it seemed that hope was gone. In 2010 the authorities made a huge mistake when they allowed some freedom a month before presidential elections. Apathetic and suppressed Belarusians caught a breath of freedom and hope for changes. It gave a chance to take a long stand. It's worth to mention "silent" rallies of summer 2011 or "Stop-fuel".
In the spring we got more support as soon as independent media started covering trials and it became clear that our guys would be jailed. After the trial you look for dark clothes for prisoners, shoes without an arch support. People recognize you and try to give it for free or offer huge discounts. My friends told me that some taxi drivers refused to take money. I will always remember this support.
- Do you remember the day when you met Mikalai at large? What did he tell you?
- Unfortunately, I do not remember a single phrase. I was jumping behind people who closely mobbed him, I was waiting for the moment to give him a hug.
People let me approach only when he started looking around wondering "where's my wife". It was a really happy day, even today when I remember those events I begin to smile.
- Who is the role model for you?
- I would not say that I have one. Yes, there are people and books that influenced my thoughts and world view. I keep saying that the Belarusians can still surprise themselves. It is based on my experience, and I believe in it.
- This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the Belarusian People's Republic. What does this holiday mean for you?
- The proclamation of the BPR, Freedom Day gave us a chance and hope. This holiday gave me symbols I do really appreciate and value - a white-red-white flag and coat of arms "Pahonia". They come from the BPR.
It would seem that the history of the Belarusian People's Republic is rather sad, it can be assessed in different ways, but it preserved the government in exile, the history, and also those symbols of great value. It means that we'll succeed and everything will be fine.