16 January 2019, Wednesday, 22:31
Thanks, everyone

Trade Unions Case, Charter’97, Decree #1 Remain Rubicon In Belarusian Politics


Top figures of Drazdy, realizing that the end is inevitable, are doing everything possible to delay the moment.

It was reported today that leaders of the REP Independent Trade Union Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik were officially charged with the “tax evasion on a particularly large scale” (Part 2 of Article 243 of the Criminal Code). This Article envisages imprisonment for the term of up to 7 years.

Why do the authorities persecute independent trade union exactly now? Is it connected with the economic and political situation in the country? Coordinator of the European Belarus civil campaign Dzmitry Bandarenka is answering these questions:

- Henadz Fiadynich and the REP trade union are one of the few remaining islands of independence and freedom in the dictatorial Belarus.

Fiadynich is a true Belarusian man with vast life experience, with his view of the world. In addition, he is a very good politician who can, when necessary, be firm, and when necessary — maneuver.

In general, Henadz Fiadynich is one of the leaders formed from the very beginning of perestroika. I remember how at the first election of the Congress of People's Deputies (1989 - Ed.) he was a confidant of Aliaksandr Dabravolski. In fact, he is one of the veterans of the labor movement in Belarus.

This is the first reason for the persecution.

The second reason is undoubtedly the authorities' awareness of the real economic situation in the country, which, to put it mildly, remains depressing. Belarus is in stagnation and deterioration. Some changes occur only because of rising prices for petroleum products, the profits from which the power clan gets, and smuggling associated with the economic war of the West and Russia. This is enough for the existence of the Lukashenka family, but it is not enough even for the force structures, not to mention improving the life of the people.

Last year’s mass protests after the introduction of the decree on "parasites" showed the authorities that the situation in the country actually resembles a powder keg. Therefore, despite the risk of imposing international sanctions, the fear of popular protests pushed the authorities to attack the leader of an independent trade union and the REP itself, which does not always visibly but consistently uphold the rights of workers and remains a potential center for social protests in Belarus.

- It turns out that the authorities “clear off” the field before the start of real implementation of the updated “parasitic” decree? What else should the Belarusian society be prepared for?

- It is now obvious to everyone (and all the media outlets with different views on the tactics and even the strategy of the struggle write about this, and they assess the situation in the same way): Lukashenka today became a laughingstock both inside the country and abroad, he is simply an absurd leader.

The world is developing rapidly, technologies are changing not only the means of production and leisure, they are changing the entire system of communications in the society. Apparently, the dictator has lost touch with reality and is busy with the "successes" of his own hockey team, which receives huge money, and is not in a position to even control achievements in real sports, let alone the economy.

Today, his eldest sons and imperious leaders clearly understand what will happen to them in the event of a popular explosion. They no longer have any hope for the "wisdom of the dictator" and the fact that he will ask Russia for something else. The top players of the political regime, realizing that the end is inevitable and that it is close, are doing everything to delay this moment.

Therefore, the regime commits actions that more sensible officials simply would not do.

The attack is now going on at several fronts.

The first is an attack on the entire society and the creation of a database on all Belarusians under the guise of Decree #1 on "parasites". In fact, it is the creation of a database and compromising materials for every citizen of the country.

The second is the "trade unions case". Today it is very important and vital to protect independent trade union leaders.

The third is a conditional case of Charter’97 and independent media, as well as an attempt to control the Internet, destroy the feedback that has emerged from the new technologies, and destroy the horizontal links in the society that have arisen through independent websites and social networks.

I want to say that now the situation is such that the authorities are weak all the same, but if the society gives in on these three fronts, does not defend Charter’97, Fiadynich, Komlik and the REP trade union, does not achieve the abolishment of the Decree #1 - than Belarus can really become a "small China" in Europe in terms of loss of human rights.

It can be seen that the ruling clique wants to stay in power and maintain its Drazdy standards of life, avoid any changes and continue to rob 90% of the Belarusian population in an impudent manner.

- Recently in Minsk, Deputy General Secretary of the Global Union IndustriAll Kemal Ӧzkan demanded that Belarusian government should stop criminal persecution of the REP leaders. It seems that the authorities have ingnored this ultimatum so far. What can be the consequences?

- The position of the leaders of international trade unions deserves respect. And it is explained by the fact that these are trade union leaders. Many politicians in Europe and our neighboring countries, unfortunately, are involved in smuggling and various dirty financial and trade operations with the Belarusian regime and Lukashenka.

Today we see how European politicians are afraid to criticize Lukashenka, so as not to interfere with these dirty affairs.

Trade union leaders are not involved in these operations and therefore can call things by their proper names. In addition, there are traditions of solidarity in the international trade union movement. And I think that the reaction of international organizations will be serious. Lukashenka hopes that the corrupt politicians and the slow-moving EU machine will not allow these sanctions.

The authorities are mistaken in this though: the trade unions are a fairly strong player both in the EU and in certain European countries.

- How can this powerful player be supported in Belarus?

- Undoubtedly: without actions inside Belarus nothing will happen. And here it becomes very important to understand what happened on March 25 this year. Why there was this division into the "concert-embroidered" youth and the Belarusian National Congress, into different positions of the older and younger generation.

It becomes absolutely clear: if it were not for the desire to celebrate by any means in the dictatorship, the inability to defend their interests and their rights, including the conduct of festive processions and demonstrations - there would not be this attack by the authorities.

Even if at least five thousand people had come out to the Yakub Kolas Square on March 25, it would have been a common position - the authorities would not have dared to enact a decree on "parasites" and there would not be such an impudent attack on the media and independent trade unions.

Now, I think it's time for everyone to realize what's going on. You can, of course, remain ethnographic Belarusians in embroidered shirts - and in the conditions of today's dictatorship and with possible Russian occupation. But only this will not be life. Because the weak power can destroy the last islets of freedom today - and the situation will change.

But I think that there are still objective processes. There is a hope that there will be courageous people in Belarus who will be able to defend their rights and be solidary.

The trade unions case, Charter’97 and the decree on "parasites" is a kind of Rubicon in the political life of Belarus.