30 November 2020, Monday, 4:16
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Dzmitry Bandarenka: We See the Last Convulsions of the Regime

Dzmitry Bandarenka: We See the Last Convulsions of the Regime
photo: shutterstock

Lukashenka's trip to prison showed that his power hangs in the balance.

This was stated by the coordinator of the civil campaign "European Belarus" Dzmitry Bandarenka, commenting on the latest events in the country for Charter97.org.

"Today is the 66th day of the Belarusian revolution. Despite what the authorities say about "deflating protest," people are taking to the streets en masse. Let's record what the Belarusians have achieved during this time, shall we?"

"We managed to achieve a lot. The image of Belarus and Belarusians in the world has fundamentally changed. If earlier Belarus was considered a dictatorship in which there will never be any changes, and we were a quiet and "pamiarkouny" (rough translation - tolerant) people who like to live under a dictatorship and make clean streets and wide roads, now, the whole world looks at Belarus with new eyes.

Many intellectuals in Europe and the world say that the Belarusian revolution is an incredible phenomenon, that the Belarusian protest is very European, civilized, but at the same time very resolute. Many leaders of European countries have discovered what we have always known: Belarusians are very courageous people. All these 66 days of protest do not take place in an environment where the authorities just look at the protesters and do nothing. We are dealing with huge repressions, which tens of thousands of people have already been subjected to, but nevertheless, it is not possible to suppress the will for freedom and change.

The internal situation has radically changed. In fact, citizens refused to obey the previous government, and a significant number of Belarusians deliberately refuse to obey it. Yes, we can say that the strike movement has begun to decline, but the results of the "Italian strikes" are also impressive - production at the flagship enterprises has dropped by tens of percent.

Only in Minsk, there are about 800 hotbeds of revolution - groups in micro-districts, at enterprises, theaters, factories, universities. These are, indeed, the hotbeds of the revolution; no one can do anything with them. It seems to me that such points of resistance will become not just the centers of civil society, but tomorrow there will be a flow of these people into the country's leadership - both at the central and local levels.

To summarize, the country has become completely different; it became clear that Belarusians are a European nation. The creativity and energy of the Belarusian revolution show that the lag that has occurred in the country due to the dictatorship of Lukashenka will decrease very quickly. There are enough smart and energetic people for this."

"One of the most notorious events in recent years is a conversation between Lukashenka and a part of political prisoners in the KGB prison. How do you rate this event?"

"It clearly shows that Lukashenka's power hangs in the balance. If it was otherwise, he would not have gone to bow, as he says, to the criminals. This is one moment, and the second - we did not see there the leaders of the real opposition, which for some reason, they called "old," but there were representatives of the so-called "new opposition." These are people who, in one way or another, were part of the system, served the regime.

Lukashenka has repeatedly awarded Viktar Babaryka, met with him; Ulasava's law firm has served many projects of the administration and affairs of Lukashenka, projects with Arab sheikhs, Russian oligarchs, Venezuelan generals. The authorities believe that it is easier to break such people. Accordingly, there were only representatives of the "new opposition" we did not see Seviarynets, Statkevich, Afnahel, we did not see regional leaders, leaders of public opinion, such as Kabanau, Piatrukhin, we did not see bloggers who have been imprisoned since May - early June.

The authorities tried to imitate a "dialogue for the West," but it worked out as always. A day later, the foreign ministers of European countries announced that personal sanctions would be imposed against Lukashenka, and they would also think about introducing sanctions against the business of people close to the dictator.

The position of Siarhei Tsikhanouski evokes great respect. I was in the KGB prison, and in Valadarka, and in the colony, I can imagine how difficult it was for people to show their position. However, the position of Siarhei Tsikhanouski was noticed - he was not shown in propaganda resources, he honestly told the lawyer what was happening at the meeting and that he refused to greet, to shake Lukashenka's hand. In a telephone conversation with his wife, he clearly stated that we need to be tougher. Siarhei Tsikhanouski is sitting in very difficult conditions, and I think that the pressure on him after all this has increased many times, but this is a man of incredible courage.

It also seemed to me that I could not break Babaryka. The banker knows how to evaluate the situation and understands that this meeting became possible only by Putin's order. There was already information that the fate of Babaryka was discussed at the meeting in Sochi.

The meeting in the KGB pre-trial detention center is evidence of the approach of our common victory."

"In the international arena, Lukashenka has turned into a "lame duck": Western countries do not recognize him, and Russia understands that he is a political corpse. Is a consensus of the main geopolitical players possible with regard to Belarus?"

"The consensus is close. Last week, the statement of the Gazprom leadership to its partners in the West went unnoticed; it said that because of Belarus (read - Lukashenka) they cannot guarantee stable gas transit to their Western European partners. This is an essential statement.

In addition, we know that Lukashenka unleashed a war against vehicles through Belarusian territory, we know that they checked almost every truck. Because of this, Polish and Lithuanian carriers sent part of their cargo to Russia via Latvia, and possibly Estonia. As always, Lukashenka shot himself in the leg.

It should be understood that the geopolitical function of Belarus is largely to guarantee transit, and this is not only transit between the EU and Russia, but also transit between the EU and China. It should be noted that the head of China formally congratulated Lukashenka, but there are simply no statements about new loans or support. It is for this reason that Lukashenka, as a schoolboy, wrote down all Putin's clever thoughts during the last meeting.

For China, the transit corridor passing through the geopolitical "Smolensk gate" between the Western Dvina and the Dnieper is no less important than for Europe and Russia.

In addition, a day after Lukashenka's trip to the KGB prison, the West announced that sanctions would be imposed against the Belarusian dictator, and nobody would shake hands with him. Thus, the European Union conveyed a message to Russia that it will no talk about transit to Lukashenka. Let's add to this the boorish statements of Drazdy regarding the leadership of Ukraine.

Lukashenka fell out with everyone. And what, Putin needs to protect him in this situation?! I think that, indeed, the Belarusian dictator was given some time to restore order; hence are the last convulsions. By intensifying repression, he is trying to show that he is in control of the situation, but in fact, these are the last convulsions. If the West says that it will not deal with him, then Russia will have to reckon with this opinion."

"Who can become a figure acceptable to Russia and the West?"

"I have already said that such a person can be Viktar Babaryka. Today Babaryka is a stronger figure than Lukashenka, so the dictator is trying to "cling to" his glory, invent a combination, make him, for example, prime minister. Perhaps by analogy with Kyrgyzstan, where the ex-deputy released from prison was made prime minister. You are absolutely right when you say that Lukashenka has lost the geopolitical game, they will not have any business with him, his days are numbered.

If the West used to say that "on November 5, Lukashenka's powers will completely expire," but today we hear from the leadership of Germany and from the leadership of other Western countries that Lukashenka has lost all signs of legitimacy. This indicates that the patience of Western European politicians with respect to this figure has run out."

"What can Belarusians do to ensure that the quantitative indicators of the protest grow into qualitative ones?"

"It is necessary to move on to more decisive actions. At least in order to end the violence in the country. Here I will note that the position of Tsikhanouskaya and her advisers on this issue is very weak: Sviatlana has no political experience, and the advisers who gathered around her have never been decisive.

We remember Tsikhanouskaya's statements that "we need to stop collecting signatures," "there is no need to raise the flag to upset the authorities," "I will not call for protests," "I won't call for strikes," "I won't call for economic sanctions" is a constant delay. Decisive actions are needed, which were used in other countries by other democratic movements that fought against dictatorial regimes."

"What methods would you recommend?"

"'Occupation strike' - if the authorities rage on the streets, then the workers of enterprises can take power into their own hands, provide security, safety, and prevent representatives of law enforcement agencies from entering the territory of their enterprise. For this, squads can be created there, which will walk with fittings in their hands and will not allow any security officials to enter the enterprise. This is how Solidarity began in Poland, and similar methods were used more than once. Students can also carry out occupation strikes.

Another point is trail blocking. Not roads in the city, which may not always be justified, namely the highways. Blocking with agricultural machinery, real barricades to end the violence and free political prisoners. Railways may be blocked. Of course, these are extreme measures, but if the authorities do not stop the violence, such methods should be considered. In addition, it is necessary to prepare for a general strike and the shutdown of all enterprises.

By their statements against women, pensioners, the most sacred things, which mean the civilization of the state, the authorities show that they are close to the Nazis, they do not care about anything sacred. Hence, the methods that I have already named will be used against them, but this is not all.

In this regard, people who are in Belarus are often dissatisfied with people-symbols who are abroad and do not understand the risks of the protesters. Tsikhanouskaya's response to her husband's call to "act tougher" was in the style of "oh, I was afraid that it would be worse for you;" such infantilism, lack of understanding of the situation, lack of understanding lead to real suffering and prolonging our protests.

Protests must remain peaceful but strong. It is necessary to use the most advanced technologies to combat dictatorships and defend the rights of workers in various countries.

The task of leaders, symbols, diaspora abroad should be reduced to one thing - to inform the leaders of the countries of the democratic world of the demand on the need to impose economic sanctions against the fascist regime of Lukashenka. Only sanctions, strikes, blocking transit roads, protests, sabotage can stop the insane violence in the country. It is necessary to promptly take measures that correspond to the complexity of the situation. However, I will note once again that the protest must remain peaceful."

"Information has just appeared that Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya announced an ultimatum to Lukashenka's regime."

"It is clear from the text that this is already a very serious statement. This is exactly what all Belarusians have been waiting for for a long time. I fully support the People's Ultimatum."