The campaign of collecting signatures has shown that the authorities are nervous and engaged in self-reflection.
Dzmitry Savich, an activist of the European Belarus civil campaign, told the press service of the campaign about the collection of signatures in Svetlahorsk:
"On October 7th, the collection of signatures for nominating the candidates for the European Belarus civil campaign came to an end. On the territory of the Svetlahorsk constituency No. 46, where my initiative group was collecting signatures, the voters were most concerned about the opening of the bleached cellulose plant in the territory of the Svetlahorsk Pulp and Cardboard Mill.
People are outraged that the constructed production facility poses a real threat to their lives and health, the environment and the region as a whole. It is said that the residents of the district have been cynically deceived. The authorities promised to build an ultramodern enterprise based on the most reliable Austrian technologies. And in fact, it turned out to be a Chinese factory with a huge number of violations at the stage of constructing and it's equipped with the Chinese equipment of the notorious quality.
For almost two years, the adjacent residential districts and the countryside have been covered with nauseous smoke from the factory's pipes, which not only irritates the olfactory receptors, but also poses a real threat caused by the concentration of dangerous substances - highly toxic compounds of chlorine, with the help of which cellulose is bleached, and of methylmercaptan. According to local environmental activists, including those who used to work directly in the chemical industry and in town's chemical laboratories, there are still no effective ways to measure the concentration of these substances in the atmosphere.
There has also been some nastiness on the part of the authorities. Special provocateurs from the district executive committee and police used to come to the pickets. The administrations of the trade and entertainment facilities, near which our pickets were held, were turning on the music and advertisements louder than usual to prevent people from talking to us. Utility workers were unexpectedly organizing repair works with a lot of construction equipment and workers in the immediate vicinity of our activists' tents and stands.
That's what makes us feel like we're on the right track. The authorities are nervous and engaged in self-reflection. As the famous proverb goes, "guilty conscience gives itself away". At the pickets people were expressing their opinion about the political and economic processes in the country, discussing the state system, disadvantages of the Belarusian economic model.
They were talking about the arbitrariness of the local authorities, poor salaries and pensions, excessive prices for consumer goods and public utilities, lack of freedom of speech, normal parliament and an independent court, and the inefficiency of our model of public administration, which cannot provide a decent life for the majority of citizens. But people have hopes for change for the better. And they are connected, first of all, with the advent of new politicians not connected with the current government. The change of power is a key issue.