The leader of the Belarusian National Congress made a speech at the session of the Socialist International in Minsk.
Mikalai Statkevich made a report on the situation in Belarus at the meeting of the Committee of the Socialist International in Minsk, the press-center of Narodnaya Hramada reports:
I am glad to welcome you in Minsk.
Narodnaya Hramada considers the holding of a meeting of the SI Committee in Belarus as support for our struggle for freedom. Thank you for your solidarity!
a) Political system
We define the political system in our country as an authoritarian parasitic regime.
For more than 25 years, the state power has belonged to one person. Elected in fair elections, he through a falsified “referendum” abolished the separation of powers and appropriated unlimited powers.
Democratic institutions turned into dummies. The “parliament” has decorative functions. It only approves any decisions proposed by the administration of the “president." Presidential decrees take precedence over laws.
The judicial system is completely subordinate to the regime. The percentage of acquittals is void. It is almost impossible to win an economic lawsuit against government agencies.
Local self-government does not really exist, government in the regions is carried out by officials appointed by the “president."
All electronic and large print media are managed or controlled by the regime. Criticism of the regime never sounds there.
b) The electoral system
It is only a fake. Election commissions are almost completely formed from specially selected and controlled representatives of the authorities. Now there is a “parliamentary campaign” going on. Out of 63,000 members of precinct election commissions, only 21 are from democratic organizations.
Coercion to the 5-day early voting is widely used with regard to students, employees of state enterprises and institutions, officers of the law-enforcement agencies. The official number of citizens who voted early makes more than a third of their number by the electoral lists.
The night before the main election day, ballot boxes for early voting are opened by officials, their contents are replaced. The number of ballots for a candidate from power in them is 95-99%.
That would be enough for a “victory”. But the falsification of the early vote is only auxiliary, insuring in nature. On the main voting day, election commissions only simulate the vote counting. Observers do not have the right to actually observe the vote count procedure, to approach the table where it is conducted, even to take a photo or a selfie. Violators of these prohibitions are immediately removed by the police.
Therefore, the results of the “election” are made known after the publication of the list of candidates. Representatives of the opposition are absent not only in the “parliament”, but also in the local representative bodies of power. True, three years ago two representatives of democratic organizations were elected (actually appointed) to the “parliament”. They were not too active and critical of the regime. But the EU saw in their appointment a sign of liberalization and lifted its symbolic sanctions off the regime.
Most of the economy is controlled by the state. The management system of state-owned enterprises is archaic, which leads to inefficiency, loss of competitiveness and markets. But such an economy solves other, not economic, tasks - control over financial flows, property and voters at workplaces. It is part of the overall system of maintaining power in the country.
For example, 90% of employees are on short-term contracts. Employers simply do not renew labor contracts for those openly dissatisfied, leaving them without a livelihood.
The state economy, apart from the raw materials part of it, produces losses, not profit. The huge state apparatus and unprofitable state enterprises are kept afloat due to Russian subsidies. In some years, they amounted to 26% of Belarus’s GDP.
Subsidies have now decreased to 10% of the GDP, and continue to decline. This has led to economic depression and increased social tensions. In exchange for maintaining subsidies, the Russian leadership demands the full implementation of the Union State Treaty signed 20 years ago.
In reality, this means the absorption of Belarus by Russia.
Lukashenka still rests, but at the same time categorically refuses the reforms necessary to preserve the state. He is afraid of losing control over the society. However, the decrease in Russian subsidies leads the political and economic model he created into an inevitable collapse.
d) Social situation
Growing economic problems have been shifted onto the shoulders of the population. In most regions, work for $ 150 per month is considered acceptable. People are forced to leave to work in other countries. More than a million Belarusians work abroad. Lukashenka has lost the support of people. More than 80% want reforms, they want a change of power. Most hate the dictator.
The opposition has no other effective levers of influence on the situation, except for mass protests.
Narodnaya Hramada is at the forefront of the struggle for freedom and the rights of people. A few years ago, we initiated the creation of the Belarusian National Congress, which included 7 nationwide organizations and 18 regional coalitions. We strive to restore courage and hope in people, to awaken the society. The BNC has nominated me as a presidential candidate in the 2020 election.
We know only one recipe for fighting fear. This is personal example and training.
In 2017, we gathered 5 thousand people in the center of Minsk to protest against the absurd tax for being unemployed. Protests spread throughout the country, this tax was canceled.
f) Current “elections”
Now the country is undergoing a “parliamentary campaign”. Belarus is to hold majoritarian “elections” in 110 districts. Candidates for “deputies” may be nominated by registered parties, collectives of large enterprises and citizens. The latter method of nomination requires the initiative group to collect more than 1000 signatures of citizens. Including during pickets in city streets.
At any other time, for a picket in the city center, you can easily be arrested. Therefore, Narodnaya Hramada actively used this “window of freedom”. We have registered 36 initiative groups in all significant cities of the country. Our activists organized pickets there to collect signatures for nominating candidates. And they placed posters on their stands with harsh criticism of the dictator. The slogan “Lukashenka must leave!” was the most moderate there.
Using these pickets, we gathered people to rallies in 20 cities of the country, where they called for a struggle for change and democracy.
On the last day of the collection of signatures, we held a rally in Minsk. During this event, almost all of our candidates burned their identities and stopped their participation in the fake “election”.
g) Lessons of courage and solidarity from the Narodnaya Hramada
After we left the campaign, one of its organizers, Sergei Sparish, was illegally arrested. We took this as a revenge of the regime for our slogans and therefore for a short time massively returned to the “election”.
On October 27, we held pickets in 11 cities of the country in defense of our comrade. For the safety of the pickets, we used the legal framework of the election campaign of our registered candidate Uladzimir Artsyman. At the pickets, the same posters which excited many so much, were used. We stated that in case of repressions against our comrades, we will hold such pickets until the end of the “election”.
On October 29, on the Memorial Day for the victims of Stalinist repressions, we held a memorial event at the KGB headquarters. 50 activists with candles in their hands were standing at the main entrance to this building, and the priest performed a ritual of expelling the “crafty demon” from it.
On November 2, Siarhei Sparysh was released. He is here now as part of our delegation.
The impudent and vibrant campaign of Narodnaya Hramada has become an example for many democratic candidates. Our slogan “Lukashenka must leave!” sounded in their speeches, unlike the previous parliamentary “elections”. Moreover, direct criticism of the dictator could be heard increasingly often.
h) Our plans
We effectively used these fake “elections” to become stronger.
We are preparing for a decisive presidential campaign. At the beginning thereof, we will have to fight for the right of the candidate from Narodnaya Hramada and the BNC to participate in the elections. In 2015, after my release from prison, Lukashenka assigned me 8 years of restriction of rights. This means that I am also banned from participating in elections, contrary to the Constitution.
However, we and our allies clearly understand that if the dictator is allowed to appoint rivals for himself, then society will have no chance to get rid of him peacefully.
Dramatic changes in Belarus are inevitable. We are preparing for them, so that these changes will bring only good to our country and people. To do this, we are building up strength.
We look forward to the support and solidarity of our friends around the world, the way we have felt this support from the SI leadership for all the long years of our struggle.
Thank you for your solidarity!