Belarus has an alternative.
The editor-in-chief of Charter97.org, Natallia Radzina, told in an interview with Belsat TV channel.
- Things we see: crosses, trials, the search of our office yesterday. What is this? Is anyone preparing for elections or anything else?
- First of all, I'd like to express my solidarity with all journalists of Belsat TV channel. Stay strong, keep doing your job and do not panic. I have good news for you: Lukashenka is very afraid of independent journalists. In general, he is afraid of everything today, of the Belarusian people, because we know very well that he has no support among the population.
He's very scared, he's afraid of losing power. And this relates to the latest events that are taking place in Belarus. It started on April 4, when Lukashenka ordered to demolish crosses in Kurapaty and continued in the form of arrests of leaders of the Belarusian opposition for a prayer service in the center of Minsk near the main temples of the country - the arrest of the leader of the Belarusian National Congress, Mikalai Statkevich, for 15 days; the arrest of the leader of the Belarusian Christian Democracy, Pavel Seviarynets, for the same period; the arrest of the coordinator of European Belarus civil campaign, Maksim Vinyarski, for 15 days, fines for Volha Mikalaichyk and Nina Bahinskaya; the search in the office of Belsat and prosecution of independent bloggers.
It proves weakness of Lukashenka. We must keep working and do not panic. I know how you feel now, because Charter-97 faced it all in 2010. We also had our office doors smashed, all the equipment was seized, criminal cases for alleged "slander" and "insult" of officials were opened, but the good reason was clear.
- When we talk about possible elections (perhaps Lukashenka may announce something in the coming days, when he addresses the people again), what can Lukashenka offer? No money can be offered, the economy suffers hardships. A great idea will not work for the elections either. Is the leader going to intimidate?
- Lukashenka is a complete bankrupt and if fair and free elections could be held in the country, he would have lost them back in 2001. All elections in Belarus have been rigged in the most impudent way for decades.
Today, we have to learn a very useful lesson in this situation, which happened to Belsat TV channel - it's the solidarity lesson. We have a problem of division: opposition, human rights defenders, civil society, and journalists.
You know, it cannot be like that under dictatorships. No independent person can act alone, because he can be easily liquidated. Including journalists, they cannot sit still today. For example, I was shocked that on the eve of the prayer for souls of the people shot dead by the NKVD in Kurapaty, almost no independent media covered it. This is not an "unauthorized" action of the opposition independent media are so afraid to write about, although it also violates the Lukashenka Constitution. This is the prayer service that does not fall under any law. So the media were afraid to write about it. If they had done that, I am sure that thousands of people would have joined it. People just didn't know where to go or what to do.
So what? Did it anyhow save Belsat from being searched? It did not. You were the next.
- Why does the government aggravate the conflict and does not try to negotiate, to listen to what people want and demand? Why did they have to remove those crosses?
- Siarhei, you look so surprised. When did Lukashenka listen to people?
- If we say that he's weak, there's fear, the greatest one over the years.
- He feels like a trapped animal, and he's driving himself into it. Because in today's conditions, when Lukashenka is under pressure of Russia, when the independence of Belarus is under threat, when he himself is one step away from the loss of power - he destroys independent media and the opposition, which, in general, is fighting today unlike Lukashenka. Not the authorities, but we are standing for independence of Belarus, for the Belarusian sovereignty.
And in this situation, he refuses to listen to us, and this corners him, and he has no way out.
- Or may it happen that Lukashenka loses control over his law enforcers? What consequences can this meeting of Minister Shunevich and Ambassador Babich not covered by state media for some reason and what kind of instructions bear and what instructions can Moscow give? Is Lukashenka fully aware of everything?
- I guess there is such a threat, as close ties of the Belarusian military and security services of Russia have long been public. And Minister Shunevich has always been a pro-Russian person. He comes from Luhansk, he appears in the NKVD uniform at victory parades, and in general, I can easily assume some game, which he may play against Lukashenka.
The thing is that both law enforcers and many officials in Belarus today understand that Lukashenka is a "lame duck" and falls into oblivion. In general, they are looking for a direction to escape and it's mainly Russiaward. But I would recommend them not to make such a mistake, because if Russians come to Belarus, Belarusian officials will not remain in their positions. This concerns everyone, including Minister Shunevich. In this situation, one should stay with the people of Belarus, with the democratic opposition and think about future of the country together.
- It's hard to believe that Minister Shunevich will join the opposition and the people when we look at current events. When we look at Ambassador Babich, doesn’t it look like he gathers acquaintances and reliable people around him?
- Anything is possible. Since I observe what Ambassador Babich is doing, he behaves very confidently in Belarus.
- He travels around the country.
- He travels around the country. He has recently been to my home town - Kobryn. In general, he behaves like a master here. It's strange how Lukashenka tolerates it, because I haven't heard a single word from him about the Russian ambassador. Apparently, he is afraid of him.
This is a very dangerous situation and again the reason for all of us not just to sit still and analyze, but to think what to do. Both for politicians and officials, including journalists.
I am surprised that today the independent media pay very little attention to true leaders of the Belarusian opposition. People who have proved their loyalty to the country with their lives. I mean Mikalai Statkevich, who served 8 years in prison. I mean Pavel Seviarynets, who also spent many years in penalty settlements and under arrest. I mean Maksim Viniarski, who has probably served a year and a half already. While the media behave like strange characters, in general, crooks, people related to the security services. They remain silent about people who can really run the country, who sacrifice their lives. The situation must be changed, because today it is hazardous.
- I think we can succeed together. Because all these people often appear on our channel.
- I have no claims to Belsat. I love you very much, I watch you and I am very grateful to you for your solidarity with the site "Charter-97".
- Also thank you for your solidarity.