People in epaulettes are already sick of Lukashenka's power.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's last trips around the country have hit records high: 15 thousand people came to the meeting with the presidential candidate in Hrodna, while in Brest - 20 thousand. The district centers were also at the level: Slonim gathered a full stadium.
Charter97.org discussed the situation in the Belarusian regions and options for its development in the coming days with the activist of the European Belarus civil campaign, Viktar Marchyk:
- Now Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is perhaps the most popular person in the country and, de facto, a single alternative candidate.
But the main thing is that her rise coincided with the revolutionary situation in the Belarusian regions. People are sick and tired of Lukashenka's reign. They long for changes. They are tired of these low salaries, high prices and populism of officials. They want to live in a better, happier Belarus, share European standards of living, not a constant struggle for survival.
Obviously, people now associate these hopes only with an alternative candidate - Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. That's why district centers gather stadiums, and tens of thousands of people join in bigger cities. This is a giant wave, which has risen against the shameful power of Lukashenka and is spreading all over the country.
- In Lida, people broke the cordon near the stage and rushed to embrace Tsikhanouskaya. What do you remember at the rally in Slonim?
- Yes, people have changed; there was a break in the moods. The energy of these rallies is higher than it used to be. Everyone in Slonim wanted to take a picture with Sviatlana when she was already leaving. All those present felt the energy and shouted "Svetlana!", then "We want changes!"
This camp of defeated power has long lost such emotions. They are barely alive and do everything under the lash. One can see that strength, energy and initiative are on our side. People are fed up with this power. They want changes and Belarus without Lukashenka. Everybody is annoyed that he still clings to the chair with his blue hands.
Now we are on the finish line. Everything now depends on people: how many of us take a stand. If there are many of us, then both the police and the military will stand beside us.
- Regarding the military... Many paratroopers came to the rallies of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in the cities of Western Belarus. They said that the elite troops would be with the people. There's a strong garrison in Slonim. What can you say about the moods in your city?
- I am a paratrooper. I served in the Transcaucasian district, the assault battalion of intelligence. When I met with our colleagues on August 2, it turned out that almost all of them are for changes. Our paratroopers really stand with the people.
Regarding the other military that deploy in Slonim. I asked our soldiers what they would do. They all made it clear: "We will not shoot people. No one will execute criminal orders. It's out of the question."
Natallia Radzina, editor-in-chief of your website, called on the military and police to stand next to people. Many employees of MIA say that the majority of the police will take the side of the people.
One can say for sure that even people in epaulettes are fed up with this power. When we had the rally of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, traffic policemen were standing next to us. When the cars started beeping, it was obvious that they were not just smiling. They felt positive when they saw so many people.
I remember when I talked to a police officer in 2006, he said that half of the personnel was against Lukashenka.
Now, I think, more than 80% of law enforcement officers also want changes. They are fed up with the rudeness and hopelessness.
- And what are the moods of public servants at places?
- They have a neutral position. If you take the superiors, they will follow the instructions of their superiors. In case of changes, they will not hinder. They, especially professionals, know they will have an opportunity to retain their positions even with the new authorities.
You see, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's rally was a success in Slonim. Neither the leadership nor the police bothered us. Everyone sees that changes are inevitable.
- After record-high rallies in their cities, people say that Lukashenka has lost the game before the election. Do you agree with that?
- Of course, I do. If we had fair elections, Lukashenka would have failed spectacularly. Even his recent electorate no longer supports him. One can see it from the conversations.
Whatever Lukashenka is doing now, everything plays against him. Any of his actions and words cause laughter and anger. Nobody believes in what he says. Yes, he lost.
- Since the early 1990s, it has been an unprecedented activity of Belarusians. More than 10% of the population already join in rallies in many cities. How soon will this protest wave smash Lukashenka's power?
- People have enough strength to remove this power, so everything will depend on us. People join in official rallies in mass and have no fear. We should do the same on August 9.
If nothing changes on August 9, Lukashenka, anyway, has finally lost the trust of the people. Even Russia does not support him anymore and Europe will not support him (I think it will impose sanctions). Very shortly, he will find himself in the situation when he has nothing to pay for pensions and employees. People will go on strikes, workers will stop the enterprises and take to the Square.
The situation will change and Lukashenko will resign anyway. If not on August 9, then in the nearest future.
- What should be done to catalyze this process?
- People should receive as much information as possible.
I think we should come and vote for Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Sunday. Then all those who voted should go to their precincts by 8 pm. When the votes are counted, the protocol should be made public. For example, a thousand people who voted for Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya gather near the polling station, if the protocol says only 100 out of 500 real number voted for her, it will be obvious that this is a fraud.
All these people should go straight to the central square, the district executive committee. They will have to stand on the square and seek new elections in their region. These are the very first steps. And then, I think, the situation itself will tell people what to do.