The majority has to prove it's the majority.
Harry Pahanyaila, chairman of the legal commission of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, told Charter97.org about the presidential election campaign in Belarus and people's readiness to defend their votes.
- We observe the one we had been accustomed to for 20 years. There are no elections in Belarus. "Elections" are just fig leaf the authorities use to cover up the so-called legitimacy of Lukashenka's presidency. It is quite predictable when there are no representatives of the opposition in election commissions when opposition observers are not allowed to a real observation when votes are counted without disclosing information on each ballot, and then figures are simply drawn, necessary or ordered by the ruler.
Everything goes as usual under the dictatorship. No regime democratically solves the election problem. The authorities do not want to change, they are satisfied with the situation we have been observing in Belarus for 26 years.
The international community has not recognized a single Belarusian "election" since 1994. No "referendum" has been recognized as a democratic one that meets justice, etc. Whether there were observers here or not, it is unlikely that Western countries recognize Lukashenka's legitimacy for a new cadence.
The only issue is whether the CIS countries and Russia recognize Lukashenka's legitimacy. There is a little intrigue here.
- In this case, are the mass peaceful protests a constitutional right of the people?
- Even our Constitution stipulates the right of the people to peaceful assemblies and, most interestingly, the right to revolt against the criminal government.
If we assess the situation reasonably and legally, the people of Belarus have been deprived of the right to choose. There are no elections, but these are the constitutional basics of people's power.
Today we are witnessing another unconstitutional crime with the involvement of law enforcement agencies, the entire executive office and all election administrations. All of them are participants in this crime. They are at the trough and they know that a change of power will bring changes. Those changes do not play in the hands of those who occupy high positions.
- Have the Belarusians demonstrated readiness to fight for their votes?
- The people are tired of this criminal power. They want changes. They clearly, publicly and openly declare it. Joining in the rallies, not yet protest ones, Belarusians exercise their right to express their wishes and hopes for transformations in Belarus. This primarily involves the need for a change of power. However, the regime remains deaf, blind and closed.
A new generation of Belarusians has appeared - these are mainly young and middle-aged people who are fed up with this power, do not see prospects for themselves, their children, career, a better life. Stagnation, growing fear, a contract system at enterprises are the tools to control people. Belarusians are tired of all this. People have simply stopped being afraid of this dirty power - this is the most important feature that gives reason for optimism.
- Can one say that Lukashenka has already failed and wouldn't have had a chance at fair elections?
- Again, we use the phrase "fair elections". Only romanticists who do not know the background of the current system could count on them. There are no elections. Today new leaders and political technologists perfectly exploit the electoral process with the use of modern digital and information technologies.
All this should have led to victory, even if not through vote counting but the support of the majority of citizens of the new leaders (in this case, it's Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya). However, for this to happen, millions of citizens in cities should take to the streets across the country. The majority must prove that they are the majority, that it is no longer possible for them to govern in the old way.
The tops have failed. When Lukashenka talks about betrayal, he does not mean officials but people who have allegedly supported him all the time. Now he sees that this majority does not exist. Therefore, he calls his people "small people and traitors". That's where the word "traitor" comes from. Finally, he sees the real picture.
His ideologists and law-enforcement officials told him that he was slowly losing power. He should have thought about succession and the development of power for the last 10 years. However, he clings to his chair and says that he will not give the country. I don't know how long he can stay.
- However, can we say that Lukashenka has lost the game?
- Absolutely. I note that I've been saying for a long time that Lukashenka is obsessed with the power he received in 1996. This man also has mental disorders.
I specifically sent a justified appeal to the CEC offering Lukashenka to pass a medical examination.
The CEC answered me that it was out of their competence. Hence the interesting conclusions, too. The Central Commission headed by Yermoshyna does not defend the arguments in my appeal saying that Lukashenka is mentally sick. If we act according to the law, my appeal should have been sent to those competent bodies that could have offered Lukashenka to pass a medical examination. He is a presidential candidate, a public person, citizens have the right to know the candidate's state of health. For example, Article 16 of the Law on Information Protection also refers to it. Some other laws, even the Constitution, prove the same: "The president can be removed from power for health reasons, as he can't perform presidential duties".
That is why the health issue, in this case, the presidential candidate, is so important. This is a public issue, which should have been resolved during the campaign. It is necessary to raise the issue of Lukashenka's removal from power because of his illness.
We only have to realize that we deal with a sick man. Speaking at the Palace of the Republic he proved it once again. Not just because he may have caught the coronavirus; he is mentally sick. Inadequate things he spoke about, and the way he spoke, those emotions prove the mental illness. Both our friends and enemies notice it.