The West should help the opposition and civil society in Belarus, otherwise, Russia will take advantage of the situation.
Former political prisoner, opposition leader and candidate of the Belarusian National Congress for the post of President of Belarus Mikalai Statkevich told in an interview to Polskie Radio how Lukashenka was gradually handing over Belarus to the Kremlin, why the West was mistaken in calling the dictator a "guarantor of independence", how the Belarusians would defend their country, as well as touched upon the upcoming elections in Belarus.
Charter97.org presents the key points of the interview.
"Lukashenka is a foolish puppet of the Kremlin"
The leader of the Belarusian National Congress agrees that Belarus is under the real threat posed by the eastern neighbour:
"Aliaksandr Lukashenka and Putin are still trading in Belarus. We have no information about their mysterious talks. One can only note that recently Aliaksandr Lukashenka has mentioned amendments to the Constitution
The dictator has created a parasitic regime in Belarus. It thrives on Russia and its oil and gas revenues. These relations are regulated by the agreement on the "union state" signed in the late 1990s. In fact, the document implies the inclusion of Belarus into Russia. It is about a common border, joint administration, joint military policy, a single currency.
This agreement is gradually being implemented. Lukashenka curbs it and trades. He surrenders the country in parts. Everybody is accustomed to the fact that Lukashenka is a foolish puppet of the Kremlin. Step by step, he makes concessions and gets preferences in return.
Thanks to these subsidies, the dictator retains power. He is not capable of anything else and does not want anything else. After all, real reforms and a normal economy mean his loss of power.
All the disputes between the Kremlin and its puppet concern how much sovereignty Russia wants to buy and how much money Lukashenka wants for it.
Currently, due to oil prices drop, Russia wants to buy more sovereignty for less money," the opposition politician says.
"Lukashenka's electorate does not exist anymore"
Mikalai Statkevich drew attention to major changes that had taken place in the country in recent years of Lukashenka's rule:
"Lukashenka's electorate does not exist anymore. We were surprised to see Western politicians when Lukashenka enjoyed the support of a large part of Belarusians, they could criticize him and impose sanctions.
And now the West protects the dictator when all Belarusians hate him, especially those who used to support him - residents with low income in towns.
Lukashenka has nothing and suddenly he gets the support of the West. Thus, the West relies on the person who has already lost everything, who trades in independence, practices repressions against journalists and patriots.
In my opinion, it is damaging to support Lukashenka, because society sees everything. Society is looking for support, and the West has been the only hope for it. The integration expectations of Belarus with the European Union has always been high - 40-45 per cent. Now its level has drastically dropped, when people see that Lukashenka meets with Western politicians.
At that, support for an alliance with Russia (not loss of independence, but cooperation) has increased significantly. It has never been so popular, even when propaganda in Belarus has contributed to the integration with Russia. We, democratic forces, will continue to fight, regardless of who helps or refuses us. However, it's hard to fight without allies.
When partners in the West peacefully observe how we are arrested and repressed, what will happen when Lukashenka finishes the plan and surrenders the independence of Belarus to Russia? Who will defend Belarus from within when the opposition is defeated? People are ready to fight for Belarus. However, there is a need for leaders to tell what's happening and to explain what to do and to unite the society", the leader of the Belarusian National Congress says.
"When the West renders support to Lukashenka, it contributes to loss of Belarus' independence"
Statkevich notes that the West is making a big mistake calling Lukashenka a "guarantor of independence":
- To be the guarantor of independence, Lukashenka must protect it. First of all, he must change the information policy, when 5 out of 8 free TV channels are Russian. And they all talk about the war with the West, incite hatred towards Ukraine. The president, defending the independence of Belarus, must change this situation. Today, Belarusians had to see the world through the eyes of Russia.
Lukashenka surrenders the media space to an aggressive information policy of Russia. And all hybrid wars begin with the information war. Information is the ground for everything. The dictator first gave up the television field, and now it's the turn of the Internet.
In Belarus, journalists of Belsat TV channel are being persecuted, independent media are being attacked, and the site Charter97.org is blocked.
Western politicians say they help Lukashenka to defend independence, and he is surrendering it," the opposition politician says.
"The West must help the opposition and civil society"
Statkevich gave specific advice to Western politicians on how to behave towards Lukashenka's regime, independent media, opposition and civil society:
"Information support is important. The support of patriotic mass media is very important, especially to the website Charter97.org, which was forced to emigrate from Belarus, has found shelter in Poland and is currently experiencing great difficulties.
Patriotic forces and opposition politicians also need support. The West needs to renew contacts with the opposition. You must help us.
It is important to help society, to show solidarity with those who were subject to repressions.
Lukashenka should not be allowed to destroy those who are ready to defend the independence of their country. The regime's security agencies are pro-Russian. These are people who advocate integration with Russia and a common struggle against the West and NATO. Putin is their leader. One should beware that Lukashenka's law enforcement agencies may be the first to lead the column of the aggressor," the BNC leader says.
"The Belarusian "balcony" may turn into a pocket for Russians"
The presidential candidate believes that there are two possible scenarios when the Belarusians have to defend their country with weapons:
"Firstly, if Russia makes Lukashenka accept more concessions than he wants. The dictator can fully surrender independence then. He also may bargain too long, and the Kremlin may dismiss Lukashenka.
In addition, I think that Russia wants the scenario of Crimea, not Donbas, to be implemented in Belarus. Donbas is too expensive. On the other hand, Russia wants to have a corridor in Belarus, a "balcony" towards Warsaw, Vilnius and Kyiv.
However, if resistance starts in Belarus, it may get support from anywhere in the world, while the "balcony" may turn into a pocket.
As for ordinary Belarusians, they have completely changed since Lukashenka was elected in 1994. The vast majority hates the dictator. I am sure that the Belarusians will fight for their country. Russia, unlike the West, knows the sentiments in Belarus. It knows that Lukashenka is not popular. It may be a reason for sooner integration", the leader of the Belarusian opposition says.
"Lukashenka see how much ordinary people hate him"
The presidential candidate of the Belarusian National Congress Mikalai Statkevich told about upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Belarus:
"Current elections are fraud. The opposition demands fair elections.
The Belarusian National Congress requires fair elections. We want a peaceful victory".
Statkevich does not agree that "the Belarusians want to live under the dictatorship":
"In 2017, Lukashenka tried to introduce a decree on "parasites". Belarusian National Congress organized the first protest action in Minsk. Then there were numerous protests across the country. Protests were carried out in this allegedly "frightened country," where 80 per cent of people is bound by contracts.
Thousands of people protested even in small towns. It has happened for the first time. People demanded Lukashenka to resign, not just to abolish the decree. Now we have new technologies, live broadcasting. Belarusians saw that they were not alone. Lukashenka saw how much ordinary people hate him. In 2017, he was afraid and abolished the decree on "parasites".
If Lukashenka had been popular, it would have been easy for him to negotiate with the West. He would have allowed Western observers to follow the vote count and organized decent elections. However, Lukashenka will lose to any candidate.
If everybody is satisfied, why are there no fair elections in Belarus?" the presidential candidate Mikalai Statkevich wonders.
It should be recalled that today Hrodna hosts the meeting with Mikalai Statkevich, as well as with the representative of the BNC Rada, Jauhen Afnahel. The meeting will be held in the Center of Urban Life on Kirova Street, 3, Hrodna.
It starts at 6 p.m, June 6.
June 7, residents of Barysau will be able to meet with Mikalai Statkevich and Jauhen Afnahel.
The meeting starts at 4 p.m; 30 Years of AULYCL Street, 8