The first head of independent Belarus told about the Belovezha Agreements and the collapse of empires.
The Belovezha Agreements were signed 30 years ago, on December 8, 1991.
The treaty between Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, signed in Visculi, marked the end of the USSR as "a subject of international law and geopolitical reality" and announced the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Stanislav Shushkevich, the first head of independent Belarus, the signatory of the Belovezha Agreements, told Charter97.org about the significance of the event for modern Belarus.
- In Visculi, as you have repeatedly stated, the fall of the Soviet regime was documented. What caused its collapse?
- The regime was so rotten that it simply should not have continued existing. It had begun to disintegrate long before that, and the USSR ceased its existence in its original form. Especially after the GKChP, after all the manipulations of Gorbachev, who wanted to be the top official.
- After the proposed formula, you said that you would be the first to sign the document. What were your motives at the time? Where did such determination come from?
- I was the first to say that I would sign, and I did that. We signed the document in alphabetic order. Three countries - Belarus is in the first place, Russia - in the second, Ukraine - in the third one. My signature comes first. The document is a de-facto registration of a confederation, the Commonwealth of Independent States. The thing Gorbachev proposed implied that he would be in charge. A confederation doesn't have a head, every state is independent. That is how such a structure emerged. And it gained a very high appraisal of the international community. Swedish diplomats said very eloquently that the Belovezha Agreements was a masterpiece of legitimate diplomacy at the end of the second millennium.
- This year, another man - Lukashenka - has decided to sign another document on the so-called "integration" of Belarus with Russia, selling out Belarus' sovereignty.
- This man will do anything to retain power. This is absurd - a US President can hold the post for a maximum of 2,920 days - two terms four years each. Lukashenka has been in power for over 10 thousand days. However, the achievements of his rule are miserable- Belarus ranked last in all positive indicators in Europe.
Lukashenka wants to retain power. Putin wants to retain power similarly. They come up with various ways, falsifications.
Now, one issue has been replaced by another because the protest was against the rigged elections, but Lukashenka says: let's not consider all those who have fled now the opposition; the opposition must be in the country. He has arrested more than a thousand people in the country. This is a criminal entrenched in the position of the President fraudulently. It is not economists or political scientists who run us now, it is the law enforcers who take care of themselves.
- How do you assess the possibility of USSR 2.0?
- Putin may want to devour Belarus now. There is no place for Lukashenka to go. He will do all Putin's orders. They are rejecting national symbols, Belarusian history, imposing bans on anything and everything. Many people are in prison. This is called state terrorism.
Lukashenka says he will only talk to the opposition within the country. But if he does not like the opposition, he will arrest another batch. After all, it is very easy to bring any charge one wants in our country.
- Are such empires possible nowadays, given the freedoms, technologies, knowledge, ways of communication that people have?
- You know they don't say that in politics, but a dog doesn't go back to its own vomit. So, it is impossible. What is possible, however, is the existence of a terrorist state with the armed forces fighting not against an external enemy but the citizens. The Geneva Declaration of 1987 explains what violence to maintain power is. One must fight it and put an end to it. One combats the legacy of it here, but one fights it poorly.
- Is the "red man" alive today, the one Svetlana Alexievich wrote about in her books? Or has one already become a part of history?
- She, like the Nobel laureate, can write many beautiful phrases. However, some people do not speak so beautifully but do important things. It is very complicated to fight a great power, whose leader has promised Lukashenka military aid if his power is under attack. His power is illegal. That is what Putin does not want to know.
Many people have a Soviet consciousness. However, there is a good consciousness too. If one follows the rules that have been established, that will be fine. If one follows what the party leaders did, it will be very bad. And that was the Soviet Union when ten nationalities were subjected to genocide, evicted from their lands. Nobody wants such a union. Such socialism, when human life is not valued, is exactly what the illegitimate rulers want to build now.
- In 2020, hundreds of thousands of Belarusians marched under white-red-white flags. Have our people shown that over 30 years, they have become a true nation ready and willing to live in a free country?
- The Belarusians have shown they are a real nation. But a nation cannot go to war with poisoned arrows against jet bombers. A nation must not go to war - a nation must be respected. And if we have had so many protests, we need to look into what is wrong. But here, on the contrary, the people who led the protest are being killed, put into the covid wards for them to pass away as soon as possible.
- What would you wish the Belarusians, who are fighting for freedom on this historic day?
- I would like to wish Belarusians good reason, strength, will, in general, to be worthy Belarusians. Since I cannot actively participate in certain processes for health reasons, I can only give advice. We used to have a "Soviet country", and I advise the Belarusians - you should be decent Belarusians.