23 January 2021, Saturday, 7:01
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Maksim Viniarski: The Authorities Cut the Tree They Are Sitting on

Maksim Viniarski: The Authorities Cut the Tree They Are Sitting on
Maksim Viniarski
Photo by Radio Svaboda

What do people talk about at pickets for signature collection?

September 8, the nomination of "candidates" for "deputies" began in Belarus. The activists of European Belarus civil campaign collected signatures near the Kamarouski market, Ploshcha Pabedy, Uschod and Uruchcha subway stations.

One of the coordinators of European Belarus Maksim Viniarski told Charter97.org about the problems the Belarusians are most concerned about and why he decided to participate in the "parliamentary campaign".

- You have been a participant in all major political campaigns over the last, perhaps, 25 years. Why did you decide to participate in this "election campaign"?

- I take part in this campaign in the 104th Kalvaryiski District of Minsk, near the Pushkinskaya subway station. There was a picket yesterday and the day before yesterday to collect signatures in my support.

I'd like to say that the vast majority of people realize that there are no "elections" in the country. Therefore, the first question they ask when they see pickets of European Belarus is: "Why should I do it? After all, everyone knows that we have one person usurping power".

But it's enough to talk to a person, to tell about our goals, to explain that we are engaged not in the "elections", but the political campaign. The attitude changes in a moment.

- And what do people who come to your pickets say?

- Let me remind you that our objectives are to remove Lukashenka from power and change of power at all levels, to prevent the start of the BelNPP and to provide decent jobs with decent salaries for the Belarusians.

And when I discussed these objectives, no one said that everything was "fine" in the country. Everyone told just the opposite: the country accumulated a huge number of problems.

Almost everybody realizes that the authorities won't solve these problems. Therefore, people are glad to see national flags, flags with Pahonia and symbols of European Belarus at our pickets in Minsk. People want to discuss their problems. First of all, they see us as opponents to the regime - people with other values, views and methods.

Therefore, it is easy to find common grounds with people at our pickets. The only remark I've heard is that "maybe you use wrong methods to fight".

- So, people share the objective of the campaign to remove Lukashenka from power?

- I neither saw nor heard a single person who rejected this objective.

Most people understand that their problems - economic, financial, unemployment and so on - are related to this power and the "results" of its 25-year reign. Of course, someone has a better sense of it. Some immediately voice the name of the person who became the "root" of all the problems. Others are ready to look for this "root" in officials, superiors, and police. But a short talk is enough for almost everyone to accept the view that the fish stinks from the head down.

- The authorities' issue is clear. How acute is the BelNPP problem?

- In my personal opinion, BelNPP is a major threat. Two factors make this thesis clear for many people.

First, if the authorities neglect all safety rules, it results in a tragedy, as it happened on July 3. Everyone sees that irresponsibility has become the main "trend" in the country.

Second, a nuclear missile has recently exploded near Severodvinsk in Russia. Everybody sees how the Russian authorities and Rosatom, which build this very BelNPP, lie. It is a luck that this time the radioactive cloud passed by Belarus. But the reactor for the BelNPP is made by the same "skillful" people from Russia, who caused a nuclear explosion in Nenoks and now hide it.

Our "experts" will do the same. We see how professional they are. We observe their unwillingness to admit to the emergencies they have initiated. Therefore, fewer people believe that everything will be fine with the BelNPP when it is put into operation. I have the feeling that almost everyone shares this opinion.

Besides, the recently shown series "Chernobyl" had an impact on young people. It also shows how the authorities delude themselves after the radioactive disaster.

- What do people say about the most acute problems - salaries, work, living standards?

- At the pickets for signatures collection, I did not meet a single person who would say that he had no problems with income. Many people assume possible labour emigration. However, not everyone likes this option - Belarusians are still bound to their land.

In general, the living standards in Belarus have significantly deteriorated over the past few years. But it should be noted that it was a long-term and gradual process, reminiscent of the well-known frog in boiling water: if it is put into the boiling water at once, it will jump out of it just instinctively. And if the water temperature rises slowly, it can be welded, and it will not even "notice" it.

It happens to some people in Belarus. But over time, the real picture comes afloat.

- By the way, since October about half a million "parasites" will pay for gas supply and heat supply at special rates...

- Exactly: when this decree was renewed, many people thought it wouldn't affect them or would affect them slightly... But now the gas and heat price will be charged under huge prices. The authorities hope for the "frog effect".

To prevent it, we have to run an information campaign and show people the true picture. After all, Lukashenka pulls the rug out from under his own feet. The authorities cut the branch they are sitting on.

- Well-known journalist Iryna Khalip said she would organize impeachment for Lukashenka if she makes it to the "parliament". What do you intend to do in a similar case?

- I do not believe that any of us will make it to the so-called "parliament".

Therefore, I'd like to use other methods to remove Lukashenka from power. Such methods exist. First of all, I believe that only "street" talks can influence dictators.