27 September 2020, Sunday, 20:02
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

The Beginning

The Beginning

Most Belarusians utterly despise Lukashenka.

Perhaps it’s time the officials should start organizing cockroaches’ runs, because they can’t show anything that would be of a remote interest to us. As for us, it turns out we really can surprise them. Moreover, regardless of all the many-ton and many-thousand administrative resources, we seem to be outplaying them.

The refusal of registration to Maksim Viniarski, Andrei Voynich, Vasil Zhorau, and Andrei Markau, did not come as a surprise to us. No one had any illusions they would register me. But we all - the European Belarus - became a real surprise for them. The officials are convinced that Belarusians are ruled by fears and primitive instincts. And the main thing for maintaining this state is to organize massive (or even not so massive) repressions from time to time, so that every Belarusian gets his injection of fear and silence. But it turns out that in Belarus, not everyone came to terms with what was happening. Not everyone has integrated into the system. Not everyone decided to simply survive, as in the USSR. No, there are people who want and can resist, work, fight. They are different. These people are united by one thing: the desire to live in a free country. Such a little thing - and so infinitely many people.

But for us - those who participate in the political campaign - the surprise was the degree of hatred for the regime. Yes, we understood that most Belarusians hate this regime and utterly despise Lukashenka. However, we saw it wasn’t the majority, but the absolute majority. I personally went around more than a thousand apartments during the month of collecting signatures - and in only one place I heard the phrase “I support Lukashenka.” Do you realize this? One place!

That is, his support is already at the level of statistical error. In some houses I was greeted with a harsh phrase: “If you are the opposition, come in. If not, get out of here.” Somewhere they could say, joyfully: “Oh, you have come yourself! We were about to search for your pickets tomorrow.” Many later called and told where, from their local point of view, it is best to picket. In some apartments, I saw Andrei Sannikov’s campaign leaflets of 2010: people kept them as evidence that Belarus was close to change even then - so as not to forget the Square, nor the people we used to be then, nor the nightmares that followed. With some, we hugged and exchanged phones.

Of course, not everyone who hates Lukashenka and his accomplices wants to live in Europe. Alas, there were those who said: if only Putin came, we would have got Russian pensions. Or those who said: I will not sign, because all these “elections” are revolting to me. Or those who whispered, looking around, so that the neighbors would not hear: “I support you, but I will not sign - I'm afraid they will arrest me.” Yes, imagine they are afraid. And even to this extent. And the authorities are happy to take advantage of this: a woman from Staletau Street at work (she works in the same area) was frightened by prison if she signs for someone other than propagandist Dumbadze, who was appointed to the “chamber”. Another resident of the district from Mendeleev Street told how the entire labor collective (she also works in the Partyzanski district) was called to the authorities and ordered to sign for a state propagandist, threatening to dismiss her if she signs for someone else. An injection of fear is made not only with repression, but also with threats. And we are going to fight this fear.

“Do not fight with Lukashenka, fight with the people who put up with all this, fight!” one of the signatories advised me. The wording is incorrect, but I understand what he meant: fear and indifference, which inevitably envelops someone who is used to being afraid. In order for a person to break out of this sticky cocoon, articles on the Charter, or posts on social networks, or NEXTA and Liavon Volski are not enough. A person must understand that they are not alone, not crushed by the state, not thrown to die in a landfill.

To do this, you need to approach them - or come to their houses - and say: “You are not alone. There are many of us. Do not be afraid. Together we can handle it. We will also live in a kind, comfortable, safe house, in peace with our neighbors. And the children will stop running from here, and the exiles will return. And we will decide for ourselves whom to elect and how to live. ”

That is why we went to people’s houses for a month. That is why we do not stop and continue to work. It doesn’t matter as candidates or their authorized representatives. We move on.

You are not alone. There are many of us. Do not be afraid.

Iryna Khalip, exclusively for Charter97.org