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Iosif Siaredzich's Open Letter May Be Signal From Officials

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Iosif Siaredzich's Open Letter May Be Signal From Officials
ANDREI SANNIKOV

The conditions under which negotiations between the authorities and the opposition are possible in Belarus.

Editor-in-chief of Narodnaya Volya Iosif Siaredzich addressed his compatriots with an open letter in which he shares his concern for the future of Belarus, and calls for national reconciliation.

This is not the first time Iosif Paulavich has called for dialogue and mutual understanding. He did this in 2017 publicly and non-publicly, he spoke with an open letter in 2021, offering peace and dialogue.

However, his current appeal is strikingly different from the previous ones. In it, he clearly says what it is dictated by: the need to save Belarus from violence, repression, the Russian boot and occupation. It is difficult to disagree with this, while clearly understanding that all these troubles are the result of many years of the current government’s activity.

In the first half of his letter, Iosif Paulavich paints an accurate picture of the current state of society: the triumph of violence, lies, dirty propaganda, torture in prisons, bloody repressions, crushed hopes, the outflow of professionals from Belarus, complete impunity for punishers, a Russian boot trampling Belarusian soil.

Such an honest analysis of what is happening, of course, deserves respect.

Having painted this terrible picture, Iosif Siaredzich suggests looking for a way out in national reconciliation, in dialogue through the mediation of the West. The words are attractive, and these sentences have the right to exist, you just need the right sequence of actions.

I will try to explain as calmly as possible, without personalities, what and how it can be:

1. National reconciliation is possible only after the change of the political system in Belarus. To offer reconciliation today means not to reconcile, but to reconcile with the troubles that Iosif Paulavich spoke about so emotionally in his letter: violence, occupation, bloody repressions, the triumph of the boor.

2. The current government under the dialogue means the process of strengthening the regime under its control through the imitation of public discussion using figureheads. Previous attempts to organize such dialogues ended with imprisonment and murder of opposition politicians, repressions and electoral fraud at all levels. The response to Iosif Siaredzich's proposals for dialogue in 2017 was the “law on parasites” and the suppression of the protests caused by this law.

3. Speaking of a dialogue, Iosif Paulavich himself, towards the end of his letter, calls this process negotiations. But this is another matter. Negotiations are possible in any situation. However, they require the honesty of both parties, that is, the obligation to strictly implement the agreements reached. Such negotiations do not require international mediators. The mediation of the OSCE mission in the “negotiations” was accompanied by the murders of opponents of the authorities.

Negotiations should be direct between the regime and the real opposition, not those appointed by the authorities. When agreements are reached, international guarantees and guarantors of their implementation will be required. The aim of the negotiations should be to hold open and fair parliamentary elections under international control.

If there is political will, such negotiations without any “dialogue” can be organized in a short time. It goes without saying that all political prisoners should be released before negotiations, as the author of the appeal suggests. All without exception, no matter what the authorities call them. Some of them will certainly take part in the negotiations.

Only after the restoration of normal living conditions in Belarus, which today has been plunged into medieval horror, will it be possible to speak of national reconciliation.

Iosif Paulavich is in Belarus today, he feels the mood in society well, he is familiar not only with representatives of the opposition, but also with many prominent figures of the current government, he himself is a prominent public figure.

I think his letter is dictated to a large extent by the horror in which the current officials live. They have already become the object of repression, and prisons are gradually being filled with them. If this is the case, then we heard them, and we are ready to suggest what they can do to change the situation.

In any case, thanks to Iosif Paulavich.

Andrei Sannikov, leader of the European Belarus civil campaign, exclusively for Charter97.org

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