What has the month of the signature collection campaign shown?
The famous Belarusian journalist Iryna Khalip in an interview with Charter97.org summed up the results of the signature collection campaign.
- What has this campaign become to you personally?
- For me personally, this campaign has become a priceless experience.
Because we have a state sociology, telling us that “everything is fine”, and there is no other sociology. And when you go around more than a thousand apartments by foot, when your friends and associates go around thousands of apartments in the same way (and as a result, you go around the whole city in different areas), then in the end it becomes a real sociology. That is, we can already claim to know a fairly representative picture.
So, I made sure that 95% of Belarusians who are opposed to the current government are absolutely real, true numbers.
This month, when I stood at pickets during the day and went home in the evenings, I met one (you know, one!) man who told me that he supported Lukashenka. Only one!
And then I had great suspicions that he has a certain place of work that forces him to say so. That is, only one such person in a month. And that’s all. In my opinion, there is nothing more to say here and no one needs any more evidence.
And the second thing: in addition to invaluable experience, this signature collection campaign inspired me personally, and my friends and associates - for future actions, for activity. And all because we met a huge number of absolutely wonderful people with whom, perhaps, under other circumstances, we would never have met.
People from everywhere helped me: they found me through social networks, came to pickets and asked how to help. And all these people want change. And they were waiting for the appearance of active people who would offer them: guys, let's be together. Let's push for change together. And we will succeed! Now I have no doubt. Because the number of good people that we met is just overwhelming.
And now I’m thinking all the time: “My God, how have all these wonderful people deserved to live in such hell-like conditions?” Now I realized that you do not need to look for answers to questions, but you just need to act. In the end, we all must ensure that these wonderful people, and you and I, and other great people that we don’t know yet, and even not really wonderful people, live in a free and democratic society.
- One of the participants in the collection of signatures told the story of how a businessman wearing business suit came up to the picket and silently kissed a white-red-white flag. She admitted that to experience such a moment, she would stand in a picket for a year... And have you had such exciting moments?
- I heard about this story, and I was very jealous of the girl who was at the time at the picket. I would also really like to see a man who would come up and silently kiss his native flag.
But in fact, there were so many exciting stories at my pickets also that there would not even be enough time to tell everything. I was personally inspired by every meeting with people: many of them approached the pickets with sincere words of support. One young lady even brought a package of hot rolls from my favorite bakery - and it is worth a lot! People came up, left their phone numbers and said: “Call me, we are ready to help, we want this.” You know, all this is very exciting.
It might seem before that the situation in Belarus is gradually becoming hopeless: people lose hope, lose optimism, cease to believe that something will ever change in our country.
Now, thanks to these new meetings, acquaintances and communication, I saw that people really want change. And everything in the country is not as hopeless as I thought a month ago.
- Let's move from personal to general: what, in your opinion, did this campaign bring to the European Belarus and to our country as a whole?
- The European Belarus has left the ghetto, into which not only the Belarusian authorities drove it, but - let's be honest - also those European structures that benefit if the Lukashenka regime remains, and they imitated teeming activity.
Thanks to the joint efforts of the European Belarus and other opposition structures, which are uncompromising and do not want to participate in the KGB-Lukashenka games, we managed to achieve this.
Both the European Belarus, and Mikalai Statkevich, and the same anarchist guys do not allow the authorities to claim that “everything is fine”, that “we have no political prisoners”, that we are undergoing a “democratic process”, that Belarus under the current government supposedly faces some “great European future.”
So: we have left the ghetto. We went out with white-red-white flags to the busiest streets of Minsk. We went around the whole city - and not only the city, because the campaign affected all Belarusian regions. And all this time we spoke the phrases that people had been waiting for many years from those who called themselves the opposition, but never told the most important things.
Now, at least it’s not only us who know that the situation is not hopeless, but those with whom we talked all this time and whose houses we visited. And together we can change it.
- What, in your opinion, can now be done with this experience? How do you see further actions - yours and your comrades-in-arms at the European Belarus?
- You know, the most important about this experience now is not to diverge, not to go underground. Especially now that we are all out of it. Now the time has come when we have all become potential leaders without any political ambitions.
This means that we do not need power - we need change. We need a free Belarus. This, in fact, is the only value for which we are ready for so many things.
I think that now we just need to stay on our positions and move on. Honestly, it turns out some kind of military terminology ... But you and I are at war! This is a war of good and evil.
- Mikalai Statkevich said at the legal demonstration in defense of Belarus’s independence that we have one decisive year to remove the impostor. Do you agree with such a - military clear - cut wording?
- I totally agree. I absolutely can sign under every word. Under each - short, expressive, capacious, truthful - word.