The Voice of America asks the question: what is similar between Ukrainian Maydan and Belarusian Ploshcha?
In her article “Ploshcha and Maydan against losers” the editor-in-chief of the most popular opposition web-site in Belarus charter97.org Natalia Radzina recollects the events of December 2010 in Minsk. Her feelings, inspired by the photo- and video streams from Kiev’s Maydan, she calls the déjà vu phenomenon.
According to her, Ukrainians are today demanding from the authorities the same thing that Belarusians demanded from the authorities of their country on a frosty night of 19 December. The Voice of America spoke with Radzina about the similarities and differences of the public protests of the brotherly nations.
- What in your opinion is taking place today in Ukraine?
-It is the struggle of people of Ukraine for freedom and its European future. While at first the protesters demanded European integration, then not they are demanding freedom and respect to their rights.
- Do you think, there is not enough freedom in Ukraine today?
- Absolutely. At first we saw that the tent camp in Maydan was brutally dispersed, then there was censorship on TV channels, the offices of opposition parties got stormed. Today we are observing as Ukraine is gradually falling into authoritarianism, that is why the behavior of Ukrainians is justified, because they want to get back their free country.
- In this case, what is the significance of the events in Ukraine for the regional security?
- It is decisive. A large number of post-Soviet states are in danger now, as we see the origination of dictatorships there. This dynamics started in Belarus. For almost 20 years already there has been a regime in the center of Europe, with which neither the EU, nor the USA could do anything. Belarus in this sense became a kind of pioneer, the example of which was followed by its neighbors: Russia, Ukraine. Look at what is taking place in Azerbaijan and Armenia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Thus we can now speak of the creation of the new USSR in the form of a union of dictatorships.
- In your article “Ploshcha and Maydan against losers” you draw parallels between the protests in Belarus in December 2010 and what is taking place today in Maydan in Kiev. Do you really thing that the political regimes are similar in Ukraine and Belarus?
- The article does not speak of the similarities of the political systems. Of course, we cannot say that Yanukovich is Lukashenka. He, of course, has all the chances to catch up with Lukashenka. In the article I say that the protests in Kiev brought back the memories of the protests in Minsk, since Belarusians just like Ukrainians, who aspire for democracy, need international support.
If in 2010 we had at least one tenth of the international solidarity and attention that Ukraine has today, we would have lived in a different country. In a certain sense at the end of 2010 and in 2011 the betrayal of the interests of Belarusians happened, who struggled for freedom. The West today believes that in current conditions no protest is possible in Belarus. But this is caused by the fact that mass repressions took place in the country after 19 December 2010, comparable to the repressions of 1937. Our country has been living almost under the conditions of martial law for already three years, and the West keeps cooperating with Lukashenka, while political prisoners remain in prisons, and legal opposition activities are in fact forbidden.
- How do Belarusian state media report on the events in Ukraine?
- At first they took a pause, however I can say today that they are in a way different from Russian state media. Of course, Belarusian regime will not support Ukrainians, who fight for their freedom. The official propaganda reports on the events negatively and with prejudice. As to the Charter-97 web-site, its attendance is 200 thousand unique users a day, since the events in Ukraine are of interest for Belarusians as well as Ukrainians, who started coming to our web-site for news.
- Is Lukashenka afraid that the manifestations of Ukrainians could become an example to be followed in Belarus?
- Certainly. In the media we can read today not only how many people came out in Maydan on a certain day, we also learn of specific little heroic deeds of particular people. For example, a metro train driver announces that people should go protest in Maydan. Or taxi drivers take people to Maydan for free. Such examples of solidarity of each and every person cannot be forgotten, and everyone tries them on: would I be able to do that? However, it is worth noting that the situation in Belarus is much more complicated today than in Ukraine. But I am convinced that sooner or later there will be another Ploshcha in Belarus, where Belarusians will get their freedom.
- Yesterday Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Belarusian colleague Mikhail Miasnikovich had negotiations, after which Medvedev announced that Russia and Belarus could introduce a single currency. How realistic is such a step in the nearest future?
- I doubt that Lukashenka would introduce a single currency, since for him personally it would mean that he could subsequently lose the sovereignty and power. The thing is that these talks about a single currency have been going on for over ten years. One of the main problems was the resolution of the issue, where the emission center would be. Moscow would not allow for it to be located in Minsk, which Lukashenka insists on. Although another things is obvious too – Belarusian dictatorship needs money badly and the relations with Moscow are improving. However, this is not the reason for the West to save Lukashenka again. Traditionally he will deceive everyone: Russia and the West alike.