There is a real chance to change power in the country.
Co-chairman of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party (BCD) Pavel Seviarynets was the guest of "Interview of the Week" on Radio Svaboda. He explains his reasons to participate in elections which do not exist, why the opposition needs well-known leader, and states that if he joins the presidential campaign, he puts his skin in the game.
The presidential campaign is a real opportunity to change the power.
- The BCD National Council has proposed you as a potential candidate on coming presidential elections. As this event is being debated a lot on social networks, we'd like you to tell us about your position first.
- First of all, we should get priorities straight. There are no presidential elections in Belarus, this is the position of the Belarusian Christian Democracy. I will quote the decision of the National Council. "The Belarusian Christian Democracy claims that "parliamentary and presidential elections" announced by Lidziya Yermoshyna are not free and fair. No amendments to the Election Code and longstanding practise of frauds make it possible to conclude that other show appointments of "deputies" and the "president" are to take place.
Then some BCD members are ready to participate in elections to the "House of Representatives", others want to boycott it. We support both strategies. Our main objective is to prove the absence of free and fair elections; and all our representatives will speak of frauds.
As for the "presidential campaign", in spite of the rehearsed character, it gives a real ground for shifts in power in case of spontaneous social upheavals, outside interference or some failures in the system (ruler's health, palace coup d'etat, and so on). And democratic forces should be ready for it.
A well-known leader, like Pashinyan in Armenia, is needed.
- The BCD offers you as participant in primaries within the center-right coalition. It means there will be other candidates... Who do you think have more chances?
- I will speak of those who participate in primaries. We think common people should participate, not just only party activists or participants in rallies.
But I want to focus on one moment. This "presidential campaign" is familiar to everybody. In fact, the leader proposed by the center-right coalition may lead the participation or boycott it. There are many conditions which determine it not just as a participation campaign. If there are any changes - the ruler's health state, domestic reasons, outside pressure, social upheavals - a well kmown leader, like Pashinyan in Armenia, is needed.
And the person who is ready in every aspect - personal, professional - will win.
- Are you ready for it?
- Yes, I am. Otherwise, I would not have been up for it.
- Do you think that a leader of democratic forces and his promotion come first, and only then the participation in elections follows?
- Yes, you're right. I guess it's a difficult decision. The BCD Party does not support simple involvement of some candidates.
All forces ready to take advantage of the situation ought to be determined.
- As soon as you stood as a candidate, you might read comments like "pseudo-opposition", "they play into the hands of the dictator", and so on. Do you think it's possible to reach people who completely ignore elections?
- I think we will be able to make the point, when we have a meeting with supporters and members of the BCD or while primaries. I'd like to explain that we have only several months when the situation can be really changed in legal terms. If something happens, those who're moving fast and have a strong team can make a difference. This is the chance. There is an opportunity before the swearing-in ceremony, even if something happens after this show.
No thoughts are acceptable that only the Belarusian opposition is interested in changes. Russia is also interested. One should define all the forces which are willing to capitalise on the situation. We ought to have a scenario, a leader who is ready to perform this scenario. So to say, our Pashinyan.
- There are two types among Belarusian opposition members. One say that first of all perople should be heard, their financial problems should be solved - that is, to fight for "benches near entrances". Other politicians have high ideas, strong will, and implant their approaches, political and moral princials in society. You daily hold the meeting with several dozens of people in Kurapaty. Will you adhere to you principled platform or will you represent a wide range of voters, if you are a chosen leader who must represent all democratic forces?
- Listen, last year there were severe mass social upheavals, marches of non-parasites. I was there. People who were there differed from those who usually take part in rallies. They were workers, pensioners, most of them I saw for the first time.
Of course, if there are any moves forward, people will set an agenda. One thing is obvious - everyone got tired of the regime. People are tired of lies, intimidations, boundaries. A common revolution I've been talking for a while is required.
- Ones believe that moral revolutions cannot happen in one day.
- Yes, it's true. However, if the society is ready and there are people who are prepared to mass campaigns, it can be done in short terms. Mandela once said: "One of the most difficult things is not to change society - but to change yourself". And here comes the essence of the message of Christian Democrats - we should start from changing ourselves. If we are ready as the people, the opposition, and individuals to be responsible for our country, God will give us a chance to bear this responsibility.
- There are other coalitions, in addition to center-right one. For example, the BPF Party states that it will have its own presidential nominee. There are several other social-democratic parties; Tell the Truth campaign stands apart. Would you like to see one or more presidential nominees from the opposition?
- If primaries are adopted, we will surely invite the BPF, social-democrats, Greens, and others to participate. We'd like all variants to be presented. As for communists, I personally against them. I think they adhere to other principles; they have already played with the regime, I mean Gaidukevich and others.
In fact, I put skin in the game when I agree to this campaign.
- During other detention you once shared that law enforcement representatives had wondered whether you were going to run for presidency.
- I often here such questions. Sometimes they ask my acquaintances. If there were presidential elections, I would have participated in them as soon as I was 35 years old. But there are no presidential elections.
In fact, I put skin in the game when I agree to this campaign. I make my family, and other people I love vulnerable. It may be a campaign of mass street protests, resistance campaign or civil unrest campaign. And this is a completely different format. Belarus misses politics.
- You have an image of a principled person, to some extent the person who does not care about finances. But the presidential campaign requires money, expenses. May it spoil your image? There are statements that after elections Pavel Seviarynets may get some money, not for himself but for good deeds.
- No. I do not aim to raise money. Our campaign means constant expenses, statring from health and ending with money. I have no money. However, this money raised on sales of my book will be spend on the campaign.
The Belarusian politics should rely on Belarusian money. If people donate some money, there are ways to do it. If you are tired of this mess, friends, let's bring changes together. You can participate in organizing events, take to the Square. These who cannot, you can render a financial assistance.