We can decide our own fate.
Residents of Babruisk met with the leaders of the Belarusian National Congress. The meeting was held on July 30. More than 40 Babruisk residents came to talk to Mikalai Statkevich and Yauhen Afnahel. A large part of the meeting, which lasted until late in the evening, was devoted to the answers to questions and a heated discussion about the future of the country, the Charter97.org correspondent reports.
- We are the most nonfree country in Europe, - Mikalai Statkevich said. - Today, in the modern world, nonfree means poor. Poor, because everyone is getting richer due to their brains. Smart people are fleeing from non-free countries, so we occupy the last places in Europe in terms of living standards. The reason is that one man once climbed upstairs and now sells our sovereignty and finances his gang with the money. Lukashenka lays a simple challenge at our feet - either we leave the country, and the Chinese will be brought to our place, or we replace him. Make him resign peacefully. There is only one way to change the power - to take to the streets in mass. We have no other way out: either we leave our country, leave this land, or we liberate it.
There were questions about the sentiment among business people, many of whom end up behind bars on far-fetched charges and are forced to "buy off" their prison sentences.
- At certain times, when there is a chance for change, a lot of people, including businessmen, start to believe in them. Some of them - the most intelligent and responsible ones - support the opposition. They don't save money for bribes or to buy off the prison, but invest it in the struggle to liberate the country. Similar things are happening now. We talk about the need to look for money at every meeting. Businessmen have two ways. The first one is to go to prison. They will go to jail for corruption, for minor violations, for refusing to give a bribe, checks will find something. Every year, about 3,000 criminal cases for so-called "economic crimes" are initiated. The second way is to support the opposition. There will be no changes without the participation of the Belarusian business. All of us face this choice: we can stay aside, hide, or we can support the change - by doing something or with money, - Yauhen Afnahel said.
People are particularly concerned about the plans of the authorities to launch the nuclear power plant in Astravets.
- My biggest concern is that this year the first reactor at the Astravets nuclear power plant will be launched. We do not need it at all. It's a real grief, it's a real bondage, the basic technological norms are not observed there, - one of the participants of the meeting, a liquidator of the Chernobyl accident said.
Several times the conversation concerned the lack of decent work in Belarus and the fact that people are forced to look for work abroad, as well as the "decree on parasites".
- A lot of Belarusians go abroad to feed themselves and their families, - Mikalai Statkevich agreed with one of the participants of the meeting. - It's a huge stress - they're deceived there, their families are falling apart. The state does not pay them unemployment benefits, their children are not helped here. Instead of rejoicing at it, the authorities demand to pay even more. It is necessary to have some sort of state thinking. If you do not help them, though it is your fault, then at least do not insult them, do not humiliate them. Instead, they spit in their faces and demand: pay us, we do not have enough money for the police.
Fears of the threat of losing the country's independence were repeatedly voiced.
- What are the chances that Russia will treat Belarus the same way as the Soviet Union did with Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, as Russia did with Crimea. In half a year, in a couple of years, in a week. How will Lukashenka behave? Will he run away, will he defend himself? Are you afraid of this? - one of the meeting participants asked.
- I'm not a mathematician, but I understand one thing: if we do nothing in the next year or two, we'll be swallowed slowly, - Mikalai Statkevich said. - They will slowly cook us like a frog, gradually raising the temperature of water. Lukashenka has become a danger to the country, he has become a loser, he is unlucky in everything. He should be removed from power. If possible, in a peaceful way. Perhaps someone in Russia will not like it, a lot of people are afraid of it. But all other options are even worse for them. They have already turned the once friendly Ukrainian people into enemies. If they come to us, they won't crawl out of here, we have 500 years of partisan fighting experience. And as for Lukashenka, what can I say about a man who is afraid of everything, who, when he became president, used to go and check his security personally at night?
- Such questions are often raised during conversations and meetings, - Yauhen Afnahel said. - For 25 years, the dictator has been destroying our faith in ourselves and our strength. We have been deprived of memory, history and the flag. This is a purposeful policy. Our first task is to restore this faith and hope. We are a great nation, we can decide our fate ourselves. We are not astrologers, we do not know where Lukashenka will run to. But we know that we will defend our independence. We know that we will fight for freedom. We know that we will defeat the dictatorship.