We can expect something like the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the near future.
Iosif Siaredzich's letter caused a storm of emotions among Belarusians. The Editor-in-Chief of the oldest Belarusian independent newspaper Narodnaya Volya (People's Will) urged negotiations with the dictatorial regime and the “national reconciliation”. Its likelihood is the main topic for many days of discussions.
The vast majority believe that this is an utopia and that no reconciliation is possible in current conditions. This is first of all because Lukashenka is holding his personal power only through violence and he will not agree to this. However, there is a noticeable trend: emigrants are actively opposing it while people living in Belarus express cautious hope and talk about the futility of the escalation. It's easy to understand the feelings of these people: Siaredzich's letter is a straw that you want to hold on to when you are living in fear and under monstrous pressure.
It's worth paying tribute to the courage of Iosif Paulavich first. The letter describes the real picture of the terror taking place in Belarus, in fact, the genocide of the entire nation, and directly speaks of the actual occupation of the country by Russian troops. Such brave voices no longer sound in Belarus today: you can appear behind bars even for a long time even for a few such words, receiving the stigma of an “extremist”, or even a “terrorist”.
But what is really behind this letter, if it would seem obvious to everyone that the regime will not go into real negotiations with the opposition, and reconciliation is impossible in today's conditions?
I have known Iosif Seredich since 1998 when I came as a young journalist to work for Narodnaya Volya. He is a patriot and a professional in his field. He remained faithful to two ideals: his newspaper, which he protected and defended in the most difficult conditions, and Belarus, so he tried to influence the situation in Belarus with all his strength and resources. It was in Narodnaya Volya that I met the leaders of the Belarusian opposition Viktar Hanchar, Henadz Karpenka and Yury Zacharanka in the 1990s and realized that journalism in a dictatorial country is something more than just a neutral description of reality.
However, for all his courage and even some outrageousness, Iosif Paulavich was always a cautious person and carefully considered every step. Therefore, if today he risked his freedom and even his life, it is because he has weighed all the pros and cons more than once.
It seems to me that the letter is not only about Lukashenka and the possibility of some kind of reconciliation with the insane dictator, who seized power with his death grip. It becomes obvious even for this governing establishment that the ruling Belarusian regime may collapse in the near future for the first time in 30 years. We can talk as much as we want about the weakness and immorality of the Belarusian elites in power silently sitting under the heel of the cad. However, we cannot say that all of them are complete idiots who are not able to see the immediate future.
The nomenklatura and the thinking part of the leadership of the power structures and the army clearly see the dead end into which they were led by Lukashenka and his Kremlin master Putin. Russia will certainly lose this war. The issuance of an arrest warrant for Putin by the International Criminal Court confirmed the readiness of Western countries to go all the way in their support of Ukraine and opposition to Russian expansion. The Kremlin lackey Lukashenka can no longer slip out of the trap - on his hands is the blood of Belarusians and thousands of Ukrainians who died during the offensive of the Russian army from Belarus on February 24, 2022.
Therefore, I consider Siaredzich's letter to be the first cautious step in preparing for a change of power in Belarus. I cannot say exactly when this will happen. Much will depend on the situation in Ukraine. Belarus is on the verge of a coup d'état by those in power.
I think we can expect something like the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the near future. They will condemn Lukashenka's personality cult, and thousands of political prisoners will be released from prisons. Although, history inevitably turns into a farcical play when repeated twice. In any case, the Belarusians will have a very good chance for change having such a development of the situation. But in order to use it, we need to maintain strength, courage and resilience.
Natallia Radzina, Editor-in-Chief of Charter97.org website