Lukashenka only needs to be nudged.
How will Belarus become free? Can this be done quickly? Leader of the Belarusian Workers' Union Siarhei Dyleuski, editor-in-chief of Charter’97 Natallia Radzina, political analyst and blogger Dzmitry Balkunetsi talk about this in the new Studio X97 program. The host is a well-known journalist Yauhen Klimakin.
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Yauhen Klimakin: To begin with, Siarhei, you came with a safety helmet. What did you mean by this?
Siarhei Dyleuski: The safety helmet has always been, is, and will be a symbol of the workers' strike, workers' resistance. In particular, workers went on strike and expressed their protest in many countries of the world and in Europe precisely by removing their helmets from their heads and knocking them on the asphalt. I wanted to show the Belarusians an example that helmets on the asphalt are one of the symbols of our protest.
Yauhen Klimakin: Natallia, do you see the light at the end of the Belarusian tunnel? Are a helmet and a strike the solution to today's problem?
Natallia Radzina: This is the key to solving the problem because today a strike can really help us all achieve the necessary changes. I do not see any other ways today except stopping all enterprises, except businesses going on vacation, except the Belarusians staying at home and not going to work. Because it can have the necessary impact on the dictatorship. Unfortunately, mass protests are impossible today, but they, I am sure, will resume again after the strikes that are to take place today in all enterprises of the country, all firms, and all factories. It seems to me that the idea of a strike, which was put forward by the Belarusian Workers' Union, is very important and gives us all hope for changes.
Yauhen Klimakin: Siarhei, not so long ago you announced the action "There will be a strike!" What are the reactions, what are the moods in general among the hard workers? How do people respond?
Siarhei Dyleuski: the reaction directly to the action "There will be a strike!", which we announced, is actually very positive. A lot of people responded. We see on the same social networks and news portals that a lot of people send photos, respond to this action, and take an active part. Our goal was to show the Belarusians solidarity with us, how many of us are, and that we are really ready to act, at least do small, simple, understandable, and safe actions. We have once again shown the whole country that we are really strong, we are really independent, we can really show our assertiveness, we can change our country for the better.
Yauhen Klimakinn: Dzmitry, from the heights of political science, do you believe in the effectiveness of this particular tool? And what else do you see?
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: I saw a helmet and remembered that two years ago such a helmet practically saved my head. I came to Moscow for one construction site. I was called by the owner of one large shopping facility, practically at the opening, but he says: "Put on your helmets." I said: "What helmet are you talking about?" As a result, everyone put on their helmets, and a huge log fell on my head right on the helmet. If there were no helmet, I think my head would have just fallen off my shoulders.
That is why I know that the helmet saves lives, but in Belarus, unfortunately, many workers do not have the opportunity to wear some kind of protection, a lot of people die at the enterprise, including, in Salihorsk, dozens of people die every year in the mine due to the fact that the norms and rules of labor are not observed. Therefore, a strike, I believe, is one of the workers' methods of getting through to the authorities.
Recently I visited enterprises in Gdansk, or rather, a museum in Gdansk, which is dedicated to Solidarity. It was the strike in the 1980s, and first, in the 1970s, that served as the reason and laid the foundation for future reforms in Polish politics, economy, and the social sphere. The workers went on strike for 18 days, put forward 21 points, wrote them on the fence, hung them on a wooden board on the fence near the gates of the main building of the shipyard, and this caused the whole of Poland to revolt. And the authorities were forced to reckon because the economy was paralyzed.
I believe that a strike is probably the best tool for reaching the authorities, forcing them to fulfill the demands of society, including political transformations, economic reforms, protection of workers' rights, protection of jobs, and so on. I think that this is the way to go, but here I agree with my colleagues that one should not think that someone is setting someone up. If a person feels that he is not ready to go to work, he stays at home. And we have covid in Belarus in an active phase, so this is also protection. Save your lives - don't go to work if you think you are not being protected in your workplace, if you are not given the vaccine you need, and so on. Therefore, I think this is a good method.
Yauhen Klimakin: Siarhei, I remember well the great interview we recorded with you. You said the phrase that the strike should begin when the workers are ready for it, not when someone thinks and decides for themselves, when some headquarters, parties, and others are ready. As of today, how do you assess the readiness of the workers, as you said at the time?
Siarhei Dyleuski: We, in general, announced the beginning of a pre-strike state in the country, primarily to help workers who are not yet ready to prepare for a strike. And I estimate that our chances of the success of this strike are extremely, extremely high.
When the machines stop at MTZ, when miners leave the mines of Belaruskali, when the transport workers do not leave the vehicle fleet, everything will come to a logical end.
People, first of all, are morally ready for the fact that they need to go on strike, something needs to be changed in our country. People began to prepare financially, we see what a huge outflow of funds comes from the Belarusian state banks, people began to stock up on food, also, we see this as a result of our action "There will be a strike!" People send us photos of their stocks that they are ready to start today. So, I believe that we are coping with our task, we are moving in the right direction, we are moving at a good pace, we and are preparing workers.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: That is why sugar disappeared.
Siarhei Dyleuski: Among other things.
Natallia Radzina: In fact, this is the know-how of the Belarusian revolution. The Belarusian example can then spread all over the world because there is a way out in a situation that at first glance seems to be a dead end. And this way out in the current situation in Belarus is a strike. The authorities are very afraid of this, and it is safe enough for people to stay at home. In the context of the coronavirus, this really saves lives, because the situation with the epidemic in Belarus today is monstrous.
Yauhen Klimakin: It will be even worse.
Natallia Radzina: We can again lose tens of thousands of people, and we are already losing. Because hospitals are overcrowded, people are lying in the corridors, a huge number of people, primarily pensioners, are simply sent home to die. I know this because my whole family has now been ill, and the situation is actually very difficult now from the point of view of repression, from the point of view of the annoying dictatorship, from the point of view of the epidemic. Therefore, staying at home is a real way today to save your life and achieve freedom for your country, including defending its independence.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: To have a festival of disobedience like this.
Siarhei Dyleuski: The so-called authorities are wildly afraid of this. Based on the events of the last week, we can clearly see that the pre-strike state in Belarus, an open warning to this government that we will start the strike, makes the authorities make mistakes, and act convulsively. They are trying to detain absolutely innocent people who are not involved in anything.
Natallia Radzina: Siarhei, the most important thing is how people will learn about the strike. After all, ideologists at all enterprises talk about this, they just come to the workers and say: "Don't listen to Siarhei Dyleuski, the Belarusian Workers' Association. No need to go on strike." That's how people learn about the strike, that it will be, that there is a worker leader Siarhei Dyleuski.
Yauhen Klimakin: You are for a quick solution to the problem through a strike. The question is: should we consider a long-term program as a plan "B"? Well, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's cabinet published and announced that they are ready to fight the regime for many years, or should such options not be considered?
Natallia Radzina: I consider this a betrayal. Betrayal, first of all, of people who are in prisons today. Yes, of course, you can probably fight in emigration for years. "Fight" in quotes. You can sit comfortably enough in your offices, in your headquarters in Vilnius, in Warsaw, and do nothing, but this is a betrayal of people who are today in prisons in inhuman conditions. The lives of these people are in danger. Let me remind you that real leaders, real leaders of Belarus, future presidential candidates, and many, many thousands of wonderful, courageous, best people of the country, whom we must rescue, are in prisons. Therefore, we do not have time for long-term struggle, for a swing. There are effective methods of fighting this dictatorship, you need to understand that Lukashenka is weak. He only needs to be pushed, and this requires courage and determination.
Yauhen Klimakin: Dzmitry, what about plan B?
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: You can have a plan "B," plan "C," and many other plans. The only question is: how realistic will they be? If nothing is done today, then plan "B" will not be implemented and other plans will not be implemented. If this is a long game for someone, well, yes, maybe they are considering such an option, but I believe that the most effective methods are usually those that, through trial and error, show and prove their effectiveness. I mean, who even planned this uprising of the people last August, if you take this global uprising as a whole? It happened spontaneously because conditions were such that there was no global plan at the time. Someone may have planned some actions...
Natallia Radzina: We said there would be a revolution.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: Undoubtedly, measurements were shown there a year before, back in the fall of 2019.
Yauhen Klimakin: Natallia Radzina knows this from personal experience because when she gave the interview, everyone looked at her like this: "Uh-huh. She made it up."
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: I agree because if there were no active actions, active calls, nothing would have happened. And now, of course, one can speak of some kind of long-term strategies: in 2025, you can look at 30-50 ahead. But, perhaps, it is worth just taking steps now, demonstrating and calling on society in some way to participate more actively.
And I believe that this is precisely a strike, disobedience, non-attendance at work, non-attendance at schools, kindergartens, and universities. Students have always been the driver of all changes and protests in many countries. Take France in 1968, Germany in 1968, and other years, when in many countries there were massive student demonstrations. Last year Belarusian students also showed activity, some were expelled, so what, they lost their position? No, many went to study at European universities. And today students can also prove themselves, for example, they do not come to universities for student lectures and so on, because there is distance education and so on. The student will be expelled - nothing will happen, the tragedy will not happen. If a pensioner or a person of pre-retirement age is fired from the enterprise, the tragedy will not happen. For the sake of $ 200 or $ 300, which Lukashenka gives, handouts to citizens. They die in the workplace because there is no special protection, because of their health conditions. I think it's worth choosing between the past and the future. It seems to me that it is just necessary to act more actively today and to discuss plan "B," "C," and other plans tomorrow.
Yauhen Klimakin: You mentioned the coronavirus. We all remember how last year this covid factor played against the regime, because the people, everyone saw how helpless the regime was and could not cope with what was happening in the country. How about this time? Because you don't have to be a fortune-teller to understand that the situation is getting worse. We see statistics, the number of cases, deaths, lethal outcomes in Belarus is growing rapidly. What to expect this time?
Natallia Radzina: I think this will also have a significant impact on the situation, because this wave of coronavirus, as Belarusian doctors tell me, is different from the previous ones, it is stronger. Now the virus is moving by leaps and bounds, a huge number of people, the majority of the population is not vaccinated. In fact, a very small percentage of people have been vaccinated, and now we do not even discuss the quality of Chinese and Russian vaccines. Therefore, I think that people will be convinced once again. Of course, no one expects anything from this government, but they will be convinced that it does not care about people and that the government needs to be changed as soon as possible.
Siarhei Dyleuski: This whole situation makes people very angry. If in 2020, when there was the first wave of covid, the second wave, the whole world trumpeted that we had problems and we needed to solve them. The whole world was quarantined, and the Belarusian leadership simply denied it. There is no virus, there is nothing, but despite the fact that a person sees on TV that “there is no virus,” his relative dies in the hospital from the coronavirus. This was all covered up; doctors were forbidden to write in their medical histories, sick lists, and disability lists that a person had the coronavirus; they wrote pneumonia, and so on.
Maybe someone else harbored illusions, but now in 2021, a new wave of coronavirus has begun, which, as Natallia correctly said, is even stronger and larger. Someone hoped, harbored some illusions that something had changed - nothing has changed, we see today news reports that 15 people died today, 20 people will die tomorrow, plus one thousand, plus one and a half, plus two thousand people have fallen ill.
Natallia Radzina: This is only official.
Siarhei Dyleuski: This is only official. Nothing has changed. People have ceased to be afraid, they simply send us photographs and videos, what huge queues are in clinics, how there are not enough beds in hospitals, there are not enough artificial ventilation devices, they see almost kilometer-long queues of ambulances at the entrances to the emergency departments. This cannot but anger people because everyone understands that, in order to save the most sacred thing that we have, in principle, on earth - human life - power does absolutely nothing for this. It simply refuses to see the obvious, refuses to see the obvious problems.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: Those persons who denied the covid last spring, when the morgues were overcrowded, when Belarus was saying goodbye to its citizens, none of these persons has yet borne any responsibility. Neither Karanik, who today heads the Hrodna region, although, I believe, corpses of tens, maybe even thousands of dead are on his conscience. Because if we look at the statistics for the past year, the discrepancy according to certain data is about 40-50 thousand people. These statistics probably hide people who died from covid.
Natallia Radzina: Tens of thousands of Belarusians died.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: Therefore, the authorities are now hiding it. Lukashenka didn’t bear absolutely any responsibility, didn’t apologize for insults to the deceased families, perished, lost relatives. Therefore, the irresponsible policy that he pursues both then and now will still bring a lot of sacrifices in Belarus. And in this situation, I believe, the best way to protect yourself is to generally minimize contacts in a pandemic. And, if it is possible due to medical indicators, then I see the need to get vaccinated, because the vaccine protects, at least. Many doctors from Belarusian cities also write to me and ask, if possible, to deliver information so that people can be vaccinated because it saves lives - people get sick, but the course of the disease has a different form.
Yauhen Klimakin: Siarhei, in your opinion, what is the temperature in the ward? What emotions are dominating in Belarus now? Is it despair, is it anger, is it decisiveness that you cannot put up with the current situation?
Siarhei Dyleuski: According to my feelings, last year, August-September, it was just anger that we were deceived, people were beaten. Over the course of a year, this anger grew into hatred. Every citizen of the Republic of Belarus hates both the actions of the authorities and the authorities themselves, which are now doing complete chaos. Every citizen of the Republic of Belarus hates what is shown on TV, hates every representative of the so-called media. Every citizen of Belarus hates a person who wears epaulets. That is, together this is just hate for what these bastards did, I'm not afraid of this word, over the past year.
Yauhen Klimakin: Dzmitry, let me turn our discussion in a slightly different direction. Why does Russia still support the dictator? You were also in Russia up to a certain point, but now, for security reasons, you decided to leave. Why does Russia still support him?
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: Russia is afraid of color revolutions and this kind of history, but I will remind you that a year ago, in September of last year, Lukashenka promised Putin, apparently, some constitutional changes, but he hasn’t carried out anything yet. Russia, I think, also has some kind of illusion that something can be done with Lukashenka within the framework of deepening integration, which has been talked about for more than 20 years only in the “union state.” For a total of 25 years, they have been talking about some kind of integration. If something was really implemented, then, probably, there would have already been some result. Let's look at the European Union: there they say and do. And here they say and get money, but there is nothing in return.
Therefore, there are probably illusions in the Kremlin that it is possible to implement something with a weak Lukashenka, to sign some papers, but these papers will not be worth anything. Because it will be impossible to fulfill obligations due to the fact that these are two different political, economic systems, there is no center of united decision-making, and so on. Therefore, in this situation, the Kremlin probably harbors illusions that weak Lukashenka is beneficial, but I believe that this is bad for Russia too, because economically weak Belarus affects, among other things, the welfare, the development of economic relations between the two countries, and the outflow of migrants from Belarus who travel to the East, to the West.
According to official data, 700 thousand migrants from Belarus live in Russia. And in Europe, these figures are getting closer. The emigrant left for Poland and other neighboring countries, so the Kremlin chose this tactic. But on the other hand, it seems to me that we are exaggerating the importance of the Kremlin factor: if the Kremlin wanted to change Lukashenka, it probably would have done it long ago, would have brought in a more loyal candidate. A lot depends on the citizens, on the population of the country, because it is the citizens who decide who will be the boss in this or that territory. Take Armenia, Kyrgyzstan. Probably, the Kremlin would like other processes to take place there. It is not always possible to intervene there.
Yauhen Klimakin: Not always the script is written by political strategists.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: Citizens decide and communicate with whoever won. If in August someone else took power in Belarus, no matter what the candidate's surname would be - Tsikhanouskaya, Ivanov, Petrov - they would negotiate with him. Lukashenka de facto controls the power, and this is why the Kremlin is negotiating with him.
Natallia Radzina: I agree with Dzmitry that the importance of the Kremlin is exaggerated. We must decide the fate of our country. And most often I hear that "if there are protests, changes, revolutions in Belarus, the Kremlin will intervene," from people who deliberately do not want to do anything. From representatives of the authorities, from current and former security officials, from current and former officials. That is, from people who, in general, do not want any changes in the country. I often hear this cowardly position from those who do not want to change anything: "If we do something the Kremlin will intervene". We must do something, and change the situation, and Moscow will have to come to terms with the choice of the Belarusian people.
Yauhen Klimakin: Natallia, is Lukashenka now negotiable? Would you go to negotiations with them if such took place?
Natallia Radzina: I think that negotiations are possible with representatives of the authorities, they are hardly possible for Lukashenka, because what he is doing, the number of crimes that he has committed lately, says in general that a person is, of course, the criminal and that he is not going to any negotiations. He is clearly inadequate. But his entourage, government officials, representatives, including law enforcement agencies, today should think about their fate. Now I'm not even talking about the fate of the country, most likely, they are more concerned about their own life. So, they need to think about their own life, and understand that Lukashenka has very little time left.
Think about yourself, think about your families, about your children, about your future. Let's sit down at the negotiating table, let's talk. We will definitely find a common language.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: Negotiations in the format of surrender, like Zhukov did on May 8, 1945. It is in this format that negotiations with him are possible. And negotiations with the authorities - there are a lot of worthy people who are quite capable of continuing to govern, in some way to help Belarus develop. There are a lot of people there who would like this crisis to be resolved as quickly as possible, but, unfortunately, many of them today are not in the first roles, and if even in the first roles, they are so cowardly that today they are unable to say anything.
Believe me, when the window of opportunity opens, we will see a huge number of worthy people who, as Lukashenka says, have been sitting under the plinth for many years, afraid to stick their nose out. To these people, if we add the energy of the diasporas, the energy of those people who are in emigration today, even inside Belarus, we will get a huge, colossal effect that will only lead to the rise and development of Belarus.
Siarhei Dyleuski: We really need such people, because what this inadequate man did in his 27 years of rule, we will have to sort out for years to come. We need to think about this, and those people who are now near the authorities, the environment, they should understand that if we establish constructive negotiations, really constructive negotiations, there is every chance that these people will directly participate in the development of our economy in the future,lifting our country from its knees.
Yauhen Klimakin: Not only the tragedy of the Belarusians is being played out now, but also through the fault of the regime in Minsk, the tragedy of migrants who are regularly brought by the regime to the border either with Lithuania or now with Poland. Migration crisis, there is already a victim. It is not clear what to do with this. But in the wake of all this, now, as we know, the European Union and the West are talking about the fifth package of sanctions because of this blackmail, and they even call it a hybrid war. What do you think of the sanctions? Are they effective, do they bring results?
Natallia Radzina: Effective, fruitful, and we must continue to put pressure on the Lukashenka regime. Economic sanctions are another key to changing the situation in Belarus. Sanctions, strikes, protests. We achieved the sanctions, in many respects, of course, Lukashenka himself contributed by landing the plane in Belarus, but, nevertheless, the democratic forces have been striving for this for a rather long time, and have finally achieved it. And this really helps a lot today, because it destroys the regime: the blocking of foreign accounts of Belarusian banks in Europe, and sanctions against oil refineries, and sanctions against Belaruskali and other enterprises in the country. This actually undermines the regime very seriously.
I see that society perceives this positively, people support this pressure on the Lukashenka regime, because they understand that, first of all, this is pressure on the dictatorship. And they are even ready to endure for some time, because they know that this will help destroy this criminal power.
Siarhei Dyleuski: When we receive feedback from workers at the enterprises, we see that people adequately understand perfectly well that sanctions are not attempts to put pressure on people, but attempts to put pressure on the authorities, and people are ready for this, people agree to this. As Natallia rightly noted, people are ready to endure in order to help us all get rid of this rot.
Yauhen Klimakin: Dzmitry, what other steps do you expect from the West? And the question is: is it worth expecting something from the West? There is a point of view: what are we waiting for, there is no need to wait and no need to rely on anyone.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: External pressure, of course, undermines the regime in a very serious way. This can be seen from the psychosis that the authorities have, that Lukashenka has. And the migrants whom he throws, these technologies, in my opinion, were even used in the GDR at one time, when they brought up migrants, threw them across the cordon in order to force them to talk. And Lukashenka hopes that in this way they will conduct a dialogue with him on resolving the crisis so that he will be recognized as president.
Is the West ready for tougher measures? Maybe yes. Some fifth package, maybe the sixth one will be accepted. The question is in the effectiveness of the implementation of those sanctions. To what extent they will be fulfilled, in particular, by the Europeans. Because there are examples when the Belarusian authorities bypass these sanctions, find some loopholes, and so on. It is also important to control this. After all, it is no coincidence that Lukashenka recently said: "Let's arrest, identify people at enterprises who publish certain materials." That is, he is afraid of sanctions, frankly. He may come up with some legends, but he is afraid of sanctions.
The West, it seems to me, could recognize him as a terrorist. This would be a very important step, which would seriously undermine his image and reputation in the world. But the West is not yet ready for this. In this situation, I believe, no matter what external pressure the West or the East may have, when money is not given to Lukashenka at all or cut very seriously, everything depends on the Belarusian citizens, I emphasize again. When in the autumn, dozens, hundreds of Belarusians, including the workers of many enterprises, wrote to me with an appeal to support Western sanctions, I asked them: "When will you start going on strike? You at your enterprise can stop the work of your team and achieve results faster than whoever introduces any sanctions there."
I will emphasize once again that a lot depends on the team specifically. Take some enterprise, for example, Siarhei Dyleuski's own enterprise, the Tractor Plant, approximately 15,000 employees work there. If the enterprise stopped, believe me, tomorrow Kachanava and some kind of Halouchanka would come there again with unrealizable promises, and would negotiate not with Western sanctions, but with the labor collective. And the labor collective would defend its rights when one for all and all for one. This practice should work today, including at Belarusian enterprises, regardless of any political preferences.
The question is not about Lukashenka - the question is about the country, the economy, the development, the future of the state. Lukashenka is leaving, this is a losing figure, this is a man who has lost his place in history. He is leaving, he simply is no longer there, forget about him. The question is: how to continue to live, how to further develop the country and the economy? He can hold on to power with his blue fingers, but this will not give any effect to the workers of the Tractor plant, it will not add a salary when the country is in isolation today.
Therefore, only a strike, a strike and the arrest of Lukashenka. These are negotiations with him.
Yauhen Klimakin: Latushka's anti-crisis management, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya's cabinet, Zyanon Poznyak has now announced that he is creating a provisional government. Do you believe that the creation of certain new institutions can somehow influence the situation?
Natallia Radzina: I believe that this is more an imitation of activity or empty statements that do not have any real basis. In fact, there is a strategy: sanctions, strikes, protests. Let's work, let's liberate the country, let's work for the release of political prisoners. The functioning of this bureaucracy abroad, the creation of provisional governments by politicians who have not existed in the Belarusian political field for a long time - this is all an imitation, fake activity, and not a real struggle. We need to do real fighting, we don't have time, people in prisons don't have time for this, you know?
Yauhen Klimakin: Okay, then I want to ask you a question. Is the unification of the opposition a prerequisite for victory?
Natallia Radzina: I am sure that the opposition will unite at a certain stage. Now all healthy democratic forces that are really ready to fight must unite. People, organizations that are not imitative, but really ready to fight, they must unite, and they are uniting now.
Siarhei Dyleuski: The creation of such structures and the functioning of such structures should be within the country.
Yauhen Klimakin: You mean the interim government?
Siarhei Dyleuski: Interim government, transitional, people's anti-crisis management - even the name itself is the whole point. That is, the country will dive into a crisis after the change of power, and we will have to raise it from its knees. Then this could take place. This is some kind of structure that deals with just this post-period, when the country needs to be raised from the crisis. Now they are doing something abroad, but there is no direct emphasis on the driving force that can really change something in the country - on the people who are inside the country. No negotiations, no sanctions will have any effect, until communication, work and actions within the country are really effectively organized.
Yauhen Klimakin: Dzmitry, how can we save political prisoners?
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: External pressure, including the international community, the position of strong states such as France, Germany, Poland, Lithuania. I have cited the example of Lithuania many times and will give it again. Lithuania, which would seem to be a close neighbor of Belarus, by its one action, by blocking the railway completely for the transit of goods from Belarus to its ports for at least a month, would largely solve the political crisis of Belarus, because this would lead to the halt of many industries, including those industries that are forced to send their products for export through the Baltic ports. There are currently no alternatives to completely block and replace Lithuanian ports with Russian ones, or there are no others.
Whoever may say something about Murmansk, Vladivostok is all nonsense. What Halouchanka or Lukashenka are blabbering is complete nonsense. And now Lithuania could show such a position, Poland could show by closing the transit. Close the transit of the railway completely, refuse to buy or block all contraband that goes through the Lithuanian-Belarusian or Polish-Belarusian border.
Yauhen Klimakin: And it goes, oh, a lot.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: This means that there are interested parties from different sides. I've been in Gdansk, I decided to take a ferry from Gdansk to Sopot, an hour sail. I am sailing on a boat: there are two construction cranes, "MAZ-Belarus". That is, they, therefore, load some products through the port in Gdansk. There were no products there, but the cranes were labeled "MAZ-Belarus". This means that they, apparently, are leased or owned in a way, these cranes are used, which means they need to be closed. This is an example of pressure that can have an effect. And, of course, this is a requirement of society, I emphasize again. The strike is just among the demands put forward by the Belarusian Workers' Association. There is one of the demands - the release of political prisoners, after all, there are more than a thousand of them, probably. I do not take any official reports.
Natallia Radzina: Several thousand.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: Even several thousand political prisoners. How many people were injured, and how many people died from torture, including in some way suffered during the protests. More than 40 thousand went through last year's tortures, beatings, how many emigrated. I believe that all citizens who have suffered will have to receive compensation for this suffering from the state in the future. And most likely, this compensation will be obtained not just from the budget, but from those persons who participated in this, so that they would be punished financially for the atrocities that they committed, and each crime must be investigated without fail.
But now the main thing is not to stop, but to move forward and pressurize the regime, because it is weak. We think Lukashenka is strong, he has an army and so on, but he shakes even more. Sits in his bunker and is afraid that he will simply be swept away, arrested. And ask, when was the last time Lukashenka appeared among the people?
Yauhen Klimakin: That's an interesting idea, because many people, I have heard public statements, express such a point of view that Lukashenka’s peak of weakness was when he was running with a gun, and now he has strengthened, that now he has already got his bearings. And you say exactly the opposite.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: A strong leader will never behave the way he does now. Arresting, intimidating, expelling from the country, making some other provocations. A strong leader would negotiate. Look at any leaders, in the days of France de Gaulle, other politicians of our time, when there were difficult periods, even Poland, take the 1980s. Yes, a state of emergency was introduced there, but they negotiated with their opponents, their opposition, allowed trade unions to form, unite, and so on.
Yauhen Klimakin: The people forced them.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: The people forced them, of course. The Belarusian people must make them hear their opinion, the voice of the people. I believe that his position is weak today, including the economy. And we see how he goes to different teams or even not teams ...
Natallia Radzina: He was sitting in the bushes in Sochi, waiting for Putin to receive him.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: According to some reports, in Sochi he met with representatives of some countries of the Persian Gulf, where he keeps money, because these people like to visit Formula 1, and Lukashenka, apparently, is now afraid to go to Arab countries so that he is not arrested, God forbid, or his plane did not fall somewhere in the Black Sea. That is why he went to Sochi, most likely, negotiated. I suppose not even a withdrawal of money, there is nothing to withdraw. Apparently, a critical situation, when you have to get some resources from the stash, small or large.
Natallia Radzina: He has no money, it is quite obvious. What do these frequent trips to Moscow speak of? That there is no money, he begs for money. But why are they dangerous? That he can sell the country. Therefore, again, I return to the strategy of struggle. The strike is not only the key to change in Belarus, it is an opportunity to secure the release of political prisoners, it is an opportunity to save one's life in an epidemic, it is also an opportunity to defend the country's independence. Lukashenka is trying today to sell Putin the illusion that he allegedly has everything under control - no, he does not have everything under control, people hate him. And we must show this, we must show how we hate him, that we want to live in a free country.
Yauhen Klimakin: Belarus without a dictatorship. What is the first thing to do?
Siarhei Dyleuski: I think elections. This is the most basic thing that should be brought up in the Belarusian people - the right to choose. When Lukashenka leaves, we have the most important and most difficult task - to choose a person who can really take responsibility for the restoration of our country. And this is a responsible choice, it must be absolutely open, honest and transparent. It will be something new for Belarusians in 27 years.
We see the tendency, again, in 27-year-old Belarus: it is very important to instill political education in people. Precisely not to conduct any kind of censorship, propaganda work, or ideology. Not ideological education, but political education. Because, I believe, I am firmly convinced of this, any worker in any field of activity, if they are not interested in the politics of their country, they are not interested in their work, or in what their plant is doing, its production and what they do in general. They are not interested in life if they are not interested in politics.
Natallia Radzina: Returning to the 1994 Constitution, holding new, free parliamentary and presidential elections, and reforming the country.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: Elections, in the broadest sense of the word. Elections not only for the highest chief, but also for deputies of local councils, expanding the powers of local councils. So that cities have the right to independently pursue their policies in the field of urban planning, urbanism, economic relations, and so on. Today, the entire concentration of power in the hands of one center has led to a colossal outflow of human resources from cities and districts. There is no development in cities, they simply stagnate, pensioners are left alone there, there is no future.
Education needs to be reformed, including political culture. Of course, the media must open up, the judicial system must work. The country must open up to the world. Belarus is in isolation, except for two or three partners with whom Lukashenka has some kind of dialogue, Belarus no longer has friends. It seems to me that the potential that was laid over the past year, including by the efforts of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and a number of other leaders, and most importantly, by the Belarusian people.
This potential is enormous. Because the world saw Belarus. And Belarus appeared to the world in a different color, and this color, it seems to me, should be revealed, but under the conditions of a dictatorship this is impossible - the bud is closed, and the flower should open and blossom, it should show its charm to everyone. This is the future.
Yauhen Klimakin: Today we are talking about a change of power. It seems to me that it is impossible if the people go into internal emigration and say: "Let them be there, and I will build my life on my own." How can Belarusians avoid getting into internal emigration?
Natallia Radzina: It's impossible. Some people tried to go into internal emigration before 2020, long before 2020. And very many lived like this all these years, a significant, but not prevailing part of the population fought. And the majority went into internal emigration. I can say this about my colleagues, journalists, and, in general, about the Belarusian intelligentsia. People preferred to live in internal emigration, not noticing the dictatorship, trying to earn money, build houses for themselves, grow gardens and pretend that everything is fine. But 2020 has shown that no, guys. They were all taken out of this internal emigration.
Yauhen Klimakin: They built houses on the sand.
Natallia Radzina: Yes. And very many people were forced to exchange internal emigration for real one. And today they are expelled from the country. And therefore this is not an option, we must fight, we must change the situation as soon as possible, now is an extremely favorable moment, not the time to get depressed, not the time to hide in emigration. We need to act and change the country.
Yauhen Klimakin: A short question to all of you to sum it up. How to win?
Siarhei Dyleuski: Work, believe and hope to win. Do not sit back, do not stay, as you rightly said, in internal migration, leave your comfort zone and fight for your rights. First of all, fight, do not sit idly by.
Dzmitry Balkunetsi: By active actions. And do not wait for someone to do something for you, that some kind mister, trapth, eastern neighbor will help to overthrow the dictator. Only actions. I will add two words about migration. Once Belarusian businessmen said: "We are beyond politics. We only want to do business." You will not be able to do business or culture, or anything else, because politics in Belarus today determines everything that happens in the country. Therefore, if you are beyond politics, you are out of business, it will be taken away from you today or tomorrow, if not yet. If you think that Belarus has a future with Lukashenka - no, there is no future. He does not even have a program for the development of the country for a five-year period, let alone a ten-year one.
Therefore, only active action, resistance. What to do? Someone is in prison, someone dies under bullets, someone in the trenches, someone in forced emigration, torn families and so on. Therefore, active and decisive action. You don't have to wait for someone to decide for you. Take action!
Natallia Radzina: Stay at home and we will win. Let there be a strike!