19 September 2021, Sunday, 4:05
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Blogger Artem Sharapov: We to Swallow Lukashenka Anyway

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Blogger Artem Sharapov: We to Swallow Lukashenka Anyway

We have really cool people.

Real Belarus was the most popular political Belarusian channel when it comes to the number of views on YouTube last month. Internet users watched its videos more than eleven million times. We talked to the founder of Real Belarus Artem Shaporov about the situation in Belarus, his meeting with Aliaksandr Lukashenka, Svetlana Alexievich's phone call and his cooperation with Siarhei Tsikhanouski. By the way, this is the first big interview that Artem has given to the media. The Charter97.org Studio X97 project was the first one to do it. The host is Yevgeny Klimakin.

- Artem, how do you get eleven million views a month?

- I work.

- But everyone works.

- No, you have to work hard and reach your goal. My goal is to inform the Belarusians. That's what I do. This is what I can do here and now. Many people write, "When do you sleep?" I sleep little and work all the time. That's what you have to do - to be honest and to work.

- Listen, such a sweet start we have, such a proper one. I'm going to spoil the story a little bit. On the eve of our interview, I talked to several Belarusian journalists and asked them: "Do you watch Real Belarus?" Well, many said to me, "Well, this is not professional, it is amateurism".

- As a consumer of information, an ordinary person, a construction worker, an ordinary guy who watches YouTube or some TV channel, I should say that I am fed up with plastic journalism. I mean playing by the rules with a person who doesn't do the same. It makes no sense. And many things that professional journalists do not write, in connection with journalistic ethics, let's say, it does not seem quite right to me. Well, I will not criticise them. Who am I?

I do my job and business. People watch the Real Belarus channel because I talk about simple things and complicated ones there, but I explain them in a simple way as I see it.

- You had the most views last month. You say you'll do it well this month as well, in July. Who is lagging behind you?

- Belsat, Tutby. They are the mastodons. One should remember that I wasn't aiming to outrun either Tutby or Belsat. I aimed to drown out Lukashenka's shit-propaganda. This is the key. That is, we must all together tell more truth than TV screens tell us lies. It is a major task. The fact that I have outrun Belsat, Tutby is great, as it shows directly the diligence of my work and people's interest in what I say and the way I do it. It only indicates the things I am doing right. That's it. By the way, when I became the first one, I immediately recommended all independent media, including Tutby and Belsat.

- Confess, do you inflate your views a bit, do you advertise?

- No.

- It's all organic, isn't it?

- There is no inflated view, subscriber, except for my wife's subscription from her cell phone. She watches my videos every day in the morning on a mandatory basis. As no one knows what I've done. I shoot it myself; I edit it myself. I don't write texts; all that people see on the screen comes without any text. Everything I say is improvisation.

...impromptu, improvisation...

- Yes, definitely. And I'm not going to write lyrics. The crucial thing is that I do things how I feel them and express my opinion of them. It means a lot to me.

- Are you 31 years old?

- 32.

- Born in Homel?

- In Homel.

- Your education?

- Ovenman-cook.

- Why an ovenman-cook? Why did you choose that?

- I love cooking. I went to Italy, and the woman who invited me was a chef who cooked for the European Union's top officials. And I watched the processes there. It's not a job but an art. I wanted to repeat it, but when I came to the Belarusian cuisine, I was horrified. When I came to study, I was horrified as well.

- How did you get to Italy? Why did you go there?

- I'm an orphan. I studied in an orphanage and they sent me to Italy as part of a program.

- How long were you there?

- We stayed in a little sanatorium for two months. They gave us a house to live in. People and volunteers arrived. That woman used to come and cook. I used to come and watch her cooking all the time. Things they cook in Europe, precisely in good family restaurants are an art. While it's production in our country. It's not possible to work as a cook in Belarus. It's awful when it comes to salaries and working conditions.

- Where did you work?

- At Plaza. I worked at Zlin. That was enough for me. The Plaza was great at first. Zlin was awful. Forced meat fell on the floor, one scooped it up and put it on a tray. Then they feed it all to workers, for money, of course. That's the reality.

- Did you work in a bakery plant?

- As an ovenman, yes.

- How was it?

- I liked baking bread, but it was hard there too.

- Did you give up quickly?

- Yes, I worked for three months and then quit. It's hard at a plant.

- Then you went to a construction site?

- Yes. It's a freer job. You're on your own. You get paid for what you do. I mean, if you've done that much, that's how much you get paid. I liked that. You work like a dog at the plant but is treated like you are an empty place. The salary is miserable there.

- Did you work as a partly skilled worker first?

- I used to work as a partly skilled worker, taking out the rubbish, cooking. When I left for work abroad, I used to cook there. I cooked, cleaned, did little things. But I understood that it had no perspective. There was literature. So I started reading books. I started learning techniques from those books. Then I practised them.

- Were those books about construction?

- Yes. A young professional, a young foreman and so on. And when you go and do the work of a professional, but for the salary of a partly skilled worker - everybody liked it. I was given the opportunity to plaster, fill with putty, do the formwork, measure foundations. I was gaining skills, and then I could claim that I could do this or that job myself. The salary went up.

- Persecution of NGOs. Crackdowns in the editorial offices of various independent media. What can we expect from the regime next?

- The regime is defending the information field and preparing for constitutional reform.

Right now, it is defending the field. It wants to repeat something that happened in 2010. When there was mass repression of independent mass media. When freedom of speech was destroyed and people were intimidated. Have you noticed that lately, since the 9th, they often show people apologizing to GUBOPiK? These are the terrorists' methods. This is how terrorists intimidated people. This is what this illegitimate government is doing. Its task is to play their political games in such a way that the people's anger, which fills the whole country right now, and it's only getting stronger, does not take to the streets. It is very important. It is very important for them so that enterprises don't stop and people don't end up on the streets.

- Okay. What can one do now? If we are talking about Belarusians, about civil society.

- I mentioned it almost in every video: strikes, demands for sanctions.

Sanctions are never enough. We should destroy the Lukashenka system. To destroy the whole system. Therefore, sanctions, strikes, and protests can help. Right now, partisanship is the best option. In order not to end up in the jail of these thugs, one has to act carefully. Hang out flags, paste up stickers, write something on the poles, mark yourself.

It is vital to distinguish ourselves so that the Belarusians could see that we disagree with the regime. We are here and do not hide. They are trying to persuade us that we are the minority. We are the vast majority. They are trying to convince us that we are outcasts, bandits, terrorists, although we do not kill, torture, rape anyone - that is what the illegitimate authorities are doing. But they manage to say that "we stand for the peace all over the world" while beating a woman with a baton and shouting, "We stand for a peaceful Belarus". These are hypocrites.

That is why our task is to go on strike! To shut down all the enterprises in the country so that the dictator could not receive a single penny of money from the Belarusian people. Sanctions! He has no right to trade with anybody because he is the illegitimate president of the country. He is a hypocrite and a man who has seized power. He has no right to sell our timber, natural resources, contact anyone.

Our diasporas should inform their countries where they live, the authorities, that this is a bandit, a terrorist and he cannot cooperate. Because you are sponsoring the beating and rape of ordinary people.

Our actions are sanctions, strikes and protests, as much as possible now.

- Can one sit back?

- This is silly. The Tell the Truth campaign are the ones who write papers to the Lukashists saying that something has been done wrong; it does not call people to the streets. Law enforcers came to them. They have always openly stated; they were criticized for it, that "we are against the street", and so on. Law enforcers are coming to everyone. The only question is when? Today or tomorrow.

No one will sit back. And the worst thing is, this is a crucial point, that even those, who are now on Lukashenka's side, the time will come, and law enforcers will come to them too. They will change their lives. If the dictator wins, Hitler's system will revive, and it is a fact. Because one can control people who hate you only through repression and humiliation. Therefore, this repression will only intensify. Every action of him will kill the word, intimidate the people for them not to leave their houses in any way. They, as we know, often make different decisions. So a new decision is new repression. If they make decisions on businesses, they will destroy the ordinary guys who work, so that they keep their heads down. They will destroy individual entrepreneurs. They will come and terrorise people. That's it. If every group sits back and thinks, "I won't be hurt, I'll stay quiet", they will come to them tomorrow.

- What does the repressive apparatus fear most of all?

- People's anger, unification. They are afraid that we unite and say to them: "Enough!" We make up the majority. We decide. This is our country, not theirs. Who are they? They're servants and should serve us, not lead us. We have not given them the right to lead the Belarusian people. We are able to decide something. Therefore, they are afraid of uniting the Belarusian people.

- What's your mood now? Many people after last year feel disappointed that they failed to defeat, finish off the regime. What about you?

- I believe in our victory. We have no other way out. Many of my friends are in prison, as well as many Belarusians. We don't have time now to give up and regret anything. Certain mistakes have been made because of a lack of experience. We know which ones. We are trying to correct mistakes. We continue to fight this power.

We know for sure that we are the majority. One could say that the opposition is a bunch of outcasts. We did not know how many of them there were, how many of us there were. We now know for sure that we represent the majority. We know that Lukashenka lost the election, and he is illegitimate. We are the power, and the law is on our side. He is the person who seized the country. The truth is on our side. It is up to us to decide where we want to go. So we must fight till the end.

- You say that you are doing everything on your channel alone. I've worked on TV for many years. You have videos where you shoot yourself - you can do it alone, press "play", and so on. I have also seen various interviews of yours where there is the camerawork. You don't work alone. How many people are on Real Belarus?

- No. This month I worked alone. Before that, I had a team, and we were trying to find funding. Because there was a cameraman, he was a designer and a host. There were a lot of people who were willing to work for the channel. We worked for some time, showing that we can do it. We asked for financing because people need money to live.

At the same time, I also work apart from filming.

- Do you have another job apart from Real Belarus?

- I'm still working.

- What do you do?

- I'm editing on commission. It helps me to stay afloat. I'm confident in the future, let's say. However, I couldn't give this money to people because it would not be enough. I'm a man of experience. I know what I need to do, how I should do it, how I should manage my time when to go to bed, what time to wake up. I have a particular algorithm for these actions. Here we have tried to find money, as they say, "famous grants" and have found nothing.

- You have no grants at all? The regime is very fond of calling all bloggers, the media, grant holders.

- 100%. I wrote a grant application. Speaking frankly, I don't know anything about it. Therefore, a man who at least more or less knows about it wrote the application. We asked him, he wrote and we got nothing. We haven't got anything, because there is no team.

- Today, Real Belarus is you.

- Yes.

- Do advertisers contact you?

- First, I'm not ready to sell ads, not because I'm all white and fluffy. I'm not ready to sell ads; I have other goals. Work is my goal. I'm working to win, and that's the goal. I'm not looking for them. They offered, I will not name, gambling club offices or whatever they are called.

- Bookmaker's offices.

- Yes. They offer a lot of money. They buy ads in bulk. It's a lot of money. There was a moment when I wanted to address the audience and talk about it. Those bookmaker's offices were ready to pay 500 dollars for an issue and to buy ten issues at a time.

- Is it bad for you, or is the time wrong now?

- Bookmakers are damaging for the reputation in blogging. It's damaging to political bloggers. I used to worry about being misunderstood by my, shall we say, colleagues.

Because I interact with many bloggers.

- Let's not point fingers, but some advertised bookmakers.

- Well, whatever floats their boat. I made my decision and have every right to do so.

- In your videos, you mainly comment on what is happening in Belarus. Therefore, a lot of information, news, videos and so on passes through you. Recently, what was the most trashy thing that you, with your experience of news-reading, read, looked at and said: “Oh!”

- Actually, I don't know how it looks like, but I worry about every news. I am waiting for the moment, as journalists put it - they are learning to abstract from news and be at arm's length, to talk about it with a cold mind. I have been shooting videos for four years and until now, every time I am blown up by each of the news. I don’t understand how this happens. I have already realized that power operates separately from common sense, but it blows me up every time. For white-red-white-socks - 14 days in prison, a fine for pants. I get furious about all these things all the time. Pensioners were reading Belarusian literature, and they put them in jail for some days. It blows me up. Every news blows me up every time. I am still not ready to say that I can abstract, I can’t.

- How did you become a blogger?

- It was 2017. The decree on parasitism. I worked just the same at a construction site and I received a letter stating that I am a parasite and must prove something to someone that I am allegedly not a parasite. I was outraged. Why do I owe someone something? I work at a construction site, I also work independently, I don’t ask this state for anything. Why do I owe someone something now? This angered me. I started looking for options on how to sue the state. I found Leanid Sudalenka, a human rights activist. We wrote a letter, and they checked me in their offices. And they sent a formal letter, like, “okay, you are not guilty of anything, you are good fellows, handsome men”. I say: "Yes, but give me back my three rubles for the letter sent.” We did not bring this matter to the end, because protests and arrests began. But it was fun actually.

- How was the first YouTube channel that you made called?

- “The First society. Homel”. However, I was still filming for the “Belarusian Field of Experiments. Rotary Header”. There were also two people there: me, Dzmitry and Viktar. This is a legendary project. It was the best, in my opinion.

- Why?

- It was fun. It was the kind of company where everyone was interchangeable. That is, we complemented each other. It was really cool.

- And your channel “Society. Homel”, which you produced. What was this story about?

- Social issues.

- For those who are not from Homel. Something that everyone in Homel knew.

- Yes, but in fact there were different stories, including Minsk. But “Society. Homel” was born because I lived in my city and I was interested in the problems of the city. That is, I filmed about housing and communal services, I filmed about the personal problems of people and tried to bring them to their logical solution, so as not just to camouflage, but to solve the problem. I didn’t speak about it openly, because I would have been overwhelmed then, and many would demand to solve problems for them. I walked along with the people. That is, they did, and I helped them, made things public. This was pressure on the now illegal government.

- Tell us some case, some story.

- There are a lot of them. Well, I have a balcony. They filmed a video in housing and communal services about how the disabled person lived.

In short, people bought an apartment. And this apartment had a balcony, officially, legally, and so on. A few years later it was simply disposed of, the balcony was removed, because they thought it was an illegally built balcony, although there were officials' signatures and we went to the housing and communal services to claim that they messed up, gave signatures, the person bought an apartment with a balcony. Either return the balcony, or directly prosecute those who signed these documents.

- Have the owners of this apartment turned to you?

- Yes. Because there is a disabled person who could not go outside. We have no barrier-free environment, nothing. And they put up a balcony. Or we filmed, for example, a person who is disabled. We made curbs, we made a road. We bought him a battery for an electric wheelchair. In fact, there were a lot of results at that moment. Almost every video produced results.

- And what is this story that they even tried to sue you. I heard it's true.

- Yes. There was a story when a mother of many children turned to me.

- What year was this?

- Probably 2020 or 2019. The school headmistress demanded to put the dog down and make repairs in the apartment within a week, otherwise she would take the children away. And there, in general, the family will find itself in a very unpleasant situation. This is how the wording sounded. A single mother turned to me and I did not believe it. I gave my phone, put the conversation on a recording, and said: call her and say it all. I want to be sure that I will talk about it, because this cannot be so - it is unreal. I listened to the audio recordings and was shocked. Everything she said to me turned out to be true.

I shot a video. There was a great response. But the person who draws my screensavers “dressed” the headmaster in a Nazi uniform. It was blurred, all the signs were blurred, but it is a fact. And they were hooked on it. And to be honest, I didn't even post this picture. I somehow didn’t pay attention to it. Uniforms are just uniforms. I thought perhaps it was the NKVD, but I did not pay particular attention, everything was blurred. And when she filed a lawsuit, we won.

- And what have you been accused of?

- Extremism, the famous wording. If something is not clear and they do not know how to try a person, then extremism is suitable, but they could not try me.

- The favorite article of extremists is to accuse others of extremism.

- We won this trial. Well, what do I mean by “won”? It was closed for lack of evidence, and the director filed a lawsuit against me in the Economic Court. We were in litigation for a very long time.

- And at that moment you were already a famous person in your city?

- Yes. A lot of people came to my trial, if that’s what you are trying to say, a lot of people.

- They supported you.

- Yes. Even people in wheelchairs came to my trial, which they carried in their arms to the courtroom, although before that I had asked for a large hall on the first floor. Knowing this, they refused. I wrote a statement, people came, and people with cerebral palsy came, and wheelchair users came to support me. And they did not give the first floor, but gave a courtroom on the third floor, and so people needed to be carried to the third floor in the arms.

- For you, this story ended, one might say, well. You were not declared an extremist.

- Yes. This story ended very well for me, considering that many new people got to know me. I was able to influence even more on some of my stories, Svetlana Aleksievich called me personally and said that I was a very cool person. She sent me a book with the warmest words. I was delighted, grateful. It is difficult to explain when such a person calls you.

- Didn't you have her number on your mobile phone?

- No. An unknown number calls me, I pick it up and she says: “Artsiom, hello. This is Svetlana Aleksievich. I want to thank you, you are a great fellow.” By the way, she was very helpful to the single mother at that moment.

- Financially?

- Financially and morally. She helped a lot. In communication with Svetlana, not openly, not in the media, but personally - she is a great person with a big heart. This is true, no matter what they might say. When the propaganda speaks badly about her, I really get very upset, because they are not even worth her finger.

- Please tell us about your collaboration with Siarhei Tsikhanouski.

- This is a long story in fact. Siarhei Tsikhanouski wrote to me by mail. He wrote to all the bloggers in Belarus.

- Even when no one knew who he was?

- Yes. And I was the only one who responded at that moment. Not because I'm so good, but because many people were more serious about security, while I believed that you need to be as open as possible.

- So what did he ask you?

- He asked me to cover the problem with his house. It became a famous house later, and we filmed an interview, and he told everyone about it. And from that moment we began to meet, drink coffee, and communicate. And he got the idea to do a business blog. And I really liked this idea. Teach people about business: how to become an individual entrepreneur, how to close the business, how to reformat an individual entrepreneur into a private unitary enterprise, into an open joint-stock company, what supplies, and stuff.

That's cool. We need to teach Belarusians exactly this. Not digging or collecting potatoes there at work, but teaching business so that people understand that this is not something complicated and transcendental, but very simple. You just need to have a desire, because Belarusians all over the world are very good entrepreneurs. In any country where they go, they mostly become successful people.

- What was your role in Tsikhanouski's project?

- I showed him and told him how YouTube works, how to design videos, and how to upload them correctly.

- You were the teacher of Siarhei Tsikhanouski.

- Yes, up to 20 thousand I completely helped him with the channel.

- Subscribers?

- Yes. I fully helped him, we went to the reports together, made joint reports, I transferred the audience from my channel to his channel. We filmed one report: I was the social part, and he was the economic. Here we filmed about a poultry maid who had problems. I filmed social issues, and he filmed how she became an entrepreneur, let's say. And all the secrets, tricks to convey to people. And I said that here we filmed about social media, and here about her business, look at what she faces, what difficulties, where she earns, how she earns. And thus the audience had a response.

I also introduced him to Mikalai Statkevich, we filmed an interview with him, because I knew that people are interested in this politician.

- And when the business story ended and the political one began, you no longer did his channel.

- Now I will try to explain. There is no politics or business in Belarus. Politics is the price of bread. And when Siarhei wanted to shoot about business, at that moment he did not realize that every time he was filming an entrepreneur, his most terrible problem was the state. The only one who throws a spanner in the works is power. There is no such thing that an entrepreneur says: “They don’t buy sweets from me because I don’t make them well”. Not. “I bought a house in which I wanted to build a restaurant, and the illegal authorities made it so that I could not build a restaurant here, although they initially promised that I could do it. I spent money, I made repairs, and now I cannot use this building.” Who is guilty? The power is to blame! Why? Because the system is crooked! And when he realized this, he was already in politics.

- If elections were held now, who would be the perfect candidate for the presidency of Belarus, in your opinion: Tsikhanouski, Tsikhanouskaya, Statkevich, Babaryka, who from this list?

- I was impressed by Babaryka, I liked him. I think he would have been a good candidate for lack of what we had. It is clear that many consider him to be pro-Russian and there are certain nuances in his direction, but I think that in general it would not be bad. We needed to at least remove this illegal government, and then we could hold competitive elections.

- I just thought about this, that for the Belarusian people an ideal president is an honestly elected one.

- And I think that at this moment it would be cool to hold an election. Viktar would have won, and I think that most likely in five years there would be a lot of worthy people who would come to power. We have really cool people. Many cool people are simply afraid to stick their heads out, because of what happened with Babaryka, and with Tsikhanouski, and with Statkevich.

Siarhei Tsikhanouski did not want to be president. His idea was to remove this illegal power. What happened was cool. The unification of political forces, which, in principle, did not happen on such a scale before. And it was very cool. By the way, before they united, I shot a video and encouraged them to do this. Perhaps it was not because I made a video about it.

- But I would like to think so.

- Yes, it would be nice. When this happened, I was inspired. True. It's cool when we come together. Unification is such a strength of the Belarusian people, power. They say that Putin influences the agenda in Belarus. If the Belarusians unite for the sake of one goal, no one will interfere with us. No one! And we will reach the goal.

- When we sat talking with you before, you said that you are an orphan. Can we talk about this? May I ask, or is this too painful a topic?

- No, normal.

- Have you been to the orphanage?

- The boarding school.

- From what age?

- Since the age of six. Reception, shelter, boarding school.

- Were you a hooligan?

- Not much. I just always defended my point of view. The question is that I have always had my own opinion and was ready to defend it, no matter what conditions I was in. Well, there were certain problems with that. None of those with whom I lived, I mean those who looked after us, did not like people who can defend their rights and, in general, quarrel.

- And what were these situations, if possible?

- Actually different. Here we are leaving for a sanatorium for the summer. Three months there, someone is in Italy, someone is in a sanatorium. And we were paid a scholarship. It was small, but it was paid. You could ask questions: “Where is my scholarship for three months?” They would say: “We bought flowers to plant in a flower bed.” And then there is a conflict. Why, without my permission, they spent my money where, in general, I don’t need it. And discussions began. And they tried to convince me that planting flowers is good for a common cause, and this is very important. But this is the usual Soviet propaganda, which, in principle, is offered on television. And many bought into it. I even remember that some of my classmates said: “Artsiom, but you're not quite right.” I said, “This is not normal, this is mine. And if I want to buy or they ask me, I will make a decision.” The most important thing is that I was already learning to defend my rights.

- What is your main takeaway from this period in the boarding school?

- Take the best, leave the worst, and remain human. It is very important to remain human. And everything will be alright.

- Before the program, you told me that you had a meeting with Lukashenka.

- Yes.

- What's the story?

- On the border of three republics: Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, three presidents used to gather, chatted about something, held some kind of event. Children were recruited under this format to dress them in Belarusian national clothes. And we stood there — we presented flowers to the presidents. We were promised gifts, and we went there.

- How old were you?

- Sixth grade. I don’t remember, I tried to find something in the video on the Internet, I didn’t find it. It was most curious. And they promised us gifts and took us there to train, they drove us there in the old Ikarus buses, and when they drove to him, they already took us on a serious double-decker bus, with comfort. I then drew attention to this, I thought something was wrong. Naturally, no one gave us any gifts. They let us down. Well, we handed the flowers and shook hands. And so it happened that I actually met him personally, shook his hand.

- How long did you have to wait for Lukashenka with these flowers?

- Oh, yes, we stood for four hours, maybe five. It was bizarre. There were also costumes of poor quality, let's say, synthetic, unpleasant. Just for the show. Nobody thought about us, nobody. We took food with us, we were not even fed there. Again they gave the order - they took the children away, set them up. They did what they wanted - a picture. And that’s it, you can go. This is how they work now.

- Did you children say something to each other about Lukashenka?

- Then they fooled us with the gifts. They said there would be presidential gifts, like big, a lot of things, they let us down. And, naturally, we, like children, got upset and said that both they and he deceived us.

- There are five people in the dock with Lukashenka, who should sit side by side. Who are they?

- Too many of them. Too many. There, in fact, everyone from the heads of the city to the heads of the districts should sit next to him. Each head of any department of the Ministry of Emergency Situations who participated in the suppression of protests, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, the riot police. They all have to go to jail. And not only the authorities, but also those who carried out these orders. The constitution clearly states, and is sworn in, that they have no right to carry out illegal orders. For this, they must study the legislation and learn it. But they did what they did and must answer for it.

A new government will come and I will demand from it that everyone is held responsible for their actions. It is very important. Because people were killed. And we know only a fraction of those who were killed. After August 9, remember how many people were missing? Then someone drowned, someone seemed to hang himself. These are the links of the same chain, and it needs to be investigated.

And everyone should be held responsible for this. It is very important.

- Again Lukashenka flew to Putin. There was a meeting in St. Petersburg. The loan. Again an invitation to visit the annexed Crimea on an official visit. According to the constitution of the topic. In your opinion, how can these dances of two dictators end?

- Putin clearly knows what he wants. And he systematically does what he needs. The dictator is trying, as usual, to maneuver, not to surrender power, to drag out the constitutional reform.

Because he understands perfectly well that he is not ready to conduct it. It is quite possible that this is the trigger that can work and bring people back to the streets. And he understands this. Plus, if the constitution is changed, it is quite possible that he will be required to leave power, he will lose a lot of powers and it is quite possible that the system will start eating him. He understands this perfectly well, and wildly does not want it to happen. And he comes and says: “Give me money. I am in the process of changing the constitution, give me money. I do everything as you ask. It just takes a little more time.” And Putin is a man of system, he has a lot of time, he does what he wants to do. It's like fishing - the main thing is not to rush.

- Will Putin succeed?

- Here again, everything depends on the Belarusian people. I'm talking about the fact that only we decide where our country should go. And neither Putin, nor Biden, nor Europe, nor any other country in the world will be able to do anything with the Belarusian people if we unite and defend our interests.

- We already recalled the year 2020. All those political murders - did you personally take them calmly, or was it still difficult for you, as for millions of Belarusians, and you still cannot find the answer: why, how could you do this to the people at all.

- I try from the moment when it all happened, to keep it somewhere there and not to live it through yet. This is difficult for me. I don’t know when I’ll start analyzing all this. This is what happened, with the murders, what will happen next. It is difficult for me and for my inner world. I looked, I understand, I am aware, but I did not live it through. When you talk about it, you get a lump in your throat.

It is very difficult, I remember the moment when Taraikouski was shot and they wrote about it. And I'm like, “It can't be true. It can not be true”. And then information came from Chamadanava that the man allegedly was with a bomb. And at some certain moment, somewhere in my subconscious, I allowed myself to think that it is quite possible. Because they just can't kill people. No. And then when the video came out, when the confirmation - I was not surprised that the propaganda was lying.

It was just not clear to me what kind of scum one had to be to shoot at a man with his hands up. For your program, I can say the word “scum”. I have many other words for this situation. It is harsh when people were hanged in the forest, and then they said that they had hanged themselves - these are wild situations and people, relatives, loved ones experience it and live with it.

We have no choice. We must win! Because how should the relatives and friends of those who were killed live? I have no idea at all. I just have no idea.

- The main problem of Belarusians. What is it?

- As far as this revolution is concerned, we too quickly realized, the whole country, what was really happening and were ready to speak out. We weren't prepared for what might happen. We didn’t believe it, no one believed that Lukashenka would come out with arms and send armed people. When he said, remember, about Ahmadinejad, Karimov, that thousands of people were shot. We all laughed at him and said that he was just threatening. But when the shooting began, we were all in shock, that is, we did not understand what was happening. The whole country went out into the streets - we stopped shooting in the streets for the most part.

But it continued on the sly - the methods of dictators.

We lacked preparation, we do not know how it should be done. No matter how much propaganda says that there was a revolution here. If it had been prepared, then, when there were 500 thousand in Minsk, we would have simply spat on all the riot police, together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, we would have simply spat on them. But we weren't ready, and that was a big problem.

- And so globally, without interruption, without a reference to last year?

- We don't believe in ourselves. Belarusians don't believe in themselves. They all tell them all their lives, I have already said about it: a piece of land, bast shoes, that someone wants to drive us under the whip. And they say that the Belarusian people, in general, are nonentities. History has been completely erased from us. I told you a story about the white-red-white flag, my personal story.

- It was offscreen. In the frame, you can briefly say that you were pumped up by propaganda in the boarding school.

- I actually studied history well, I really liked it and I have always been a patriot of my country and always wore the flag “sunset over the swamp” and gave it to my child, because I was sure that this is the flag of my country, and this is my country. And when I saw the white-red-white flag and improved my understanding of what it was, I was wildly surprised and I had the feeling that I had been deceived.

They overwrite history for a reason. A good nation must have its own history. And unfortunately, our history is being erased, now it is even sometimes recognized as extremist, which in general is very annoying and, given that it has not yet been removed from the register of our country's cultural heritage, but has already been recognized as extremist. Brilliant. Our problem is that we don't believe in ourselves. The situation is already changing, of course. We must all believe in ourselves. We are a cool nation. We live in the coolest place, in the center of Europe, at the intersection of all roads. And we are a very hardworking and laborious nation. So we have to believe it, and be confident.

- And in the free Belarus, the Belarus without Lukashenka, what do you want to do?

- When I return, I will be engaged in construction. I will shoot in parallel, as I did in Belarus. That is, in parallel to shoot and engage in construction. But if there is assembling work, I will probably also be engaged in assembling.

- Oh, you won't have time.

- I have time. I think it will be cool if I can combine. Perhaps there won't be such urgent need for me to shoot that much. Perhaps, these will again be my social videos about the stories of specific Belarusians, about specific problems. Maybe I'll upgrade and have some cool news.

- Here’s the last question. What is the real Belarus like?

-Right now it is frightening. Terrible, because the blue-fingered oldman, who usurped power, sits in the management of our real Belarus. And it's scary, really scary. It saddens me that when he was given so many rights, he destroyed the constitution, took all the power. But I am glad that the Belarusian people do not want to see him in power anymore.

It is impossible to rule over people who hate you. What the sorry excuse of a power is doing right now is just convulsions, a throe. I am 100 percent convinced of this. Well, it has never happened in history that some king or some dictator ruled over a people who hated him for a long period of time. He eats himself, and he will eat. If he does not, then we will "eat" him. We will win anyway. This is what real Belarus is.