The presidential electoral campaign will be vitally important.
One of the leaders of the steering committee for creating the Belarusian Christian Democracy party Pavel Seviarynets told this to the Charter97.org website as he commented upon his participation in the political campaign on the election of the President of Belarus.
- The BCD has chosen you as the only possible leader of the Right-Centrist coalition at this election, but you will have to struggle with other candidates at primaries yet. How will it happen?
- I’d like to say it straightaway: there have been no real elections in Belarus for 25 years. Instead of this, they arrange an electoral show, with the help of which Lukashenka wants to demonstrate that there is “democracy” in the country, and the leaders are elected.
Herein, most Belarusians see this is not the case: there are neither democratic elections, nor free competition in politics and economy.
So we decided to hold primaries together with our colleagues by the Right-Centrist coalition in order to define a sole leader for the time of the upcoming political campaign.
This doesn’t automatically mean that we nominate someone as presidetial candidate. A sole leader may be either a leader of participation, or a boycott and mass protests leader – this will depend on the situation.
My opinion is such that the participation in the election has a point if we find ourselves in a force majeure situation.
- Which circumstances do you consider force majeure situations?
- These are the situations when, for instance, Russia starts active interference, or if Lukashenka’s health deteriorates suddenly, or a coup d'etat begins, or maybe mass popular protests. Then the opposition is going to need one strong leader who is ready to take responsibility and speak on behalf of the Belarusian people.
That is why we plan to go on trips to the regions for several months this year, make public speeches in Minsk so that people would see several contenders and could vote for a person whom they would consider their leader.
Primaries will be real, true elections, absolutely transparent, unlike the thing Lidziya Yarmoshyna does. I think the people’s interest to choosing a sole democratic leader should steer a certain political wave.
All this will be accompanied by online voting, statements in the media, activity in the social networks. Thus, primaries will become a part of the political “bacchanalia”, which seems to scare Lukashenka so much.
- The Belarusian National Congress can name their sole contender for a presidential candidate of Belarus already today. How do you see your interaction with the sole leader from the BNC?
- I think that, first, the Right-centrist coalition will invite everyone to participate in the primaries, including the person whom the BNC will choose.
However, if the BNC chooses to conduct the campaign independently, then the already elected at the primaries sole leader of the Right Centrists will hold negotiations so that this campaign would be well-coordinated. It would be perfect if it was a common campaign, but it least it should be well-coordinated.
Because, both the Right-Centrist coalition and the BNC have strong sides. I think we need to ensure that the BNC, and the CCP BPF, and youth organizations, and other democratic forces, partake in this joint, powerful, alternative campaign. We need overall coordination, starting from protest campaigns till the so-called elections, including independent observation over the vote counting procedure.
- You are one of the contenders for the leading position in the upcoming opposition’s political campaign. Why do you think voters should put their trust in you at primaries, and, possibly, at the election? What is your program?
- Here I need to say about the seven steps that Belarus should take. This will be my program.
First: Belarus needs to return to the legal field, to the Constitution of 1994. Because Lukashenka pushed the country out of the legal field.
Secondly, it will be necessary to create a Provisional Government consisting of representatives of democratic parties and organizations that won.
The third step of the Provisional Government is to give people freedom. This means: abolish criminal decrees of Lukashenka; eliminate restrictions, including for medium and small businesses; cancel contract employment system; return people the retirement experience previously taken away from them; abolish the disgraceful “tax for the unemployed” - all those payments stipulated by the decree on “parasites”; cancel all fines that strangled any initiative of Belarusians.
The fourth point is free parliamentary elections. Belarusians must elect their representatives themselves, no one has the right to appoint them.
Fifth: independent courts and law enforcement agencies. Punitive bodies and police arbitrariness, which we have now, should be replaced by real law enforcement officers.
After that, with the sixth point, it will be possible to begin the eradication of corruption, which, under Lukashenka, has permeated the entire vertical of power. We propose to fight it with the Lincoln law. This is a law, the analogue of which is presented in all developed countries and not in any of the CIS countries. Its essence is that a person who helped prove the fact of corruption receives 25% of the amount stolen from the state - as if they had found the treasure. In developed countries, this way hundreds of billions of dollars of budget money are saved annually.
The seventh step is a developed local government. People themselves must manage their lives. Decisions regarding a particular territory should be made not at the center, but at the level where the problem exists. For this you need to create a financial base for decentralization. The BCD proposes that a third of taxes remain on the ground (in the city, town, village — where they gather), another third goes to the center of the district (these are smaller administrative units than today's regions), and the last third goes to the center.
I think that these short seven points can be taken during the first few months of the new government and will radically change the situation in Belarus.
- You have formulated the “after victory” program. However, as Admiral Kolchak once said, “We can take any resolutions, but if we don’t win, we will be hanged.” So, do you have some “program of victory”, which would allow to realize the mentioned seven points?
- If a force majeure situation occurs in Belarus, and this is, I repeat, either an open interference of Russia, or mass disturbances, of Lukashenka’s health problems, or a coup d'etat – the Belarusian people will have only one option: to come out to the Square in the center of Minsk and demand changes in the country.
It should be a one-time taking on to the square. There should not be a never-ending conveyor of actions, as the authorities suppress the actions with small number of participants.
Force majeure will create a shock situation. People will go to the Square - and after that the history of victory begins.
The history of victory can be long, like our neighbors’: Poles, Czechs, Lithuanians, and Ukrainians did not immediately achieve changes, the changes were preceded by a mass taking on to the square of the people mobilized by a political campaign.
There are no other examples, as there are no indications that the Lukashenka regime can give away power just like that. Therefore, the Belarusian people will have to say their word. It makes no sense to wait for some heroes or supernatural events that will come and help us all. We must understand that for every Belarusian it will be a personal challenge: if not me, then who? Come out - and stand as many days or even months as necessary.
To make people uprise, we also need our primaries that awaken political activity. Campaigns on the most urgent problems of modern Belarus are also needed: the new decree on “parasites”, the battery factory in Brest, environmental problems, and the impaction in Minsk.
If all this can be combined, then victory and changes are possible.
- You are saying that the Belarusian people will have to say their word. What are the moods of the people today? You, as a politician, talk to people. How do you assess the situation with the protest potential of Belarusians?
- I can say for sure: Belarusians are close to the boiling point. Just yesterday evening, I visited a public discussion on the impaction in the Minsk microdistrict Sukharava, and simply asked people who are against to raise their hands. The whole hall - more than 300 people - as one raised their hands. There was not a single hand for the plan of the authorities.
I have not seen such a wave of indignation spilled right into the face of the authorities for a long time. People spent several hours scolding Lukashenka’s officials in the presidium. And this is in Minsk, which the regime is trying to feed and appease. There has not been such indignation since the marches of outraged Belarusians in 2017.
At the same time, we must understand that there is a threat to the Belarusian sovereignty on the part of Russia. No one except the Belarusian people can become the guarantor of our independence. And many people understand this.
- The latest presidential election in Belarus went inactive and unnoticed. What will this political campaign be like, in your opinion?
- It will be a bright campaign.
First, it will take place after the mass protests of 2017. Secondly, it will be a campaign in the face of threats to the Belarusian independence. Russia will seriously take on our country - and this will surely affect the situation.
People’s fear of going out into the streets will be much less. The previous elections were held immediately after the Ukrainian Revolution of dignity and people were somewhat overwhelmed by what was happening there. Now people see everything differently.
Of course, we pray for change to take place peacefully in Belarus. This is our goal. But Belarusians need to remember: freedom and independence are not given just like that. At least, it will be necessary to prepare to defend their ideals.
I think that the fatigue from the Lukashenka regime, which has accumulated even more from the last election in five years, can cross the line at any moment.