Belarus’ unstable elements
14:17, — Politics
Ignoring Belarus’ problems led to the spreading of the dictatorship violence all over the post-soviet area.
The leader of the European Belarus civic campaign, candidate for president in 2010 elections Andrei Sannikov and charter97.org web-site’s editor-in-chief Natalia Radzina visited Norway. In Oslo the former political prisoners met the State’s Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway Morten Glad-Pedersen and members of Norwegian parliament, were honorable guests at the documentary festival Human Rights Human Wrongs, which opened with Madeleine Sackler’s film ‘Dangerous acts starring the unstable elements of Belarus’, and gave interview to leading Norwegian media.
“It is very important to keep remembering Belarus. Norwegian people should support Belarusians, who are fighting for freedom today. We should demand that Lukashenka immediately released political prisoners, stopped the repressions and started observing human rights. The sanctions against his regime must be kept in place and even strengthened. Simultaneously the open door policy should be pursued toward the people of Belarus, civil society should be supported.
We should constantly remember that Belarus is a part of our European family. Now there is a dictatorship there. Europeans, including Norwegians, should be doing all possible in order for dictator Lukashenka to quit. While he rules, none positive changes are possible in Belarus”, - one of the organizers of the Belarusians’ visit, representative of Norwegian Helsinki Committee Berit Lindeman stated.
At the meeting with Norwegian MFA’s Secretary of State Andrei Sannikov and Natalia Radzina spoke of the situation around political prisoners, as well as the necessity for the West to develop a strategy towards Belarus, which is the region’s key country.
“The link cannot be missed between the protests in Belarus in 2010 and what is taking place in Ukraine. This is the confirmation of one simple thought: Europe cannot negotiate with dictators hoping to change for the better the situation in countries, where they rule. Very important processes are developing today in Ukraine, and it gives hope that Europeans behave differently there than in Belarus. There are constant contacts both with the authorities and opposition, civil society and oligarchs. Europe has finally started speaking substantially of significant financial support to Ukraine in the transition period. In this situation Belarus cannot be ignored. On the contrary, the people of Belarus, the civil society and opposition need greater attention and greater support, since the situation there is more complicated than in Ukraine.
The failure of the summit in Vilnius should not lead to slackening the attention toward Belarus as the whole region’s key country. Unfortunately today the support has gone weaker even on the most painful topic of political prisoners, who are in a terrible situation and should be released immediately. Norway, which is not an EU member, can make more decisive steps and put forward demands to stop the repressions”, - the leader of the European Belarus claimed.
Norwegian NRK TV channel’s news on the situation in Belarus:
Charter97.org’s editor-in-chief separately spoke on the situation with independent media and civil society in the country, as did she point out the necessity to change the approaches to supporting the democratic movement in Belarus.
“The latest events in the countries, where authoritarian and dictatorial regimes are in power, show the increased role of the internet, internet-media, social networks, civil journalism. This is one of the fields that should be supported. Also real rather than declarative support should be provided for the democratic movement and human rights organizations in Belarus. Many EU’s mechanisms are so bureaucratized that it is practically impossible to get support. Very often the support so necessary for democrats goes to pro-government institutions.
Sometimes it seems that they have forgotten about Belarus in Europe, put their hands down, having lost hope to change a thing. But the changes are possible in the country at any moment. Belarusians hate the dictator. It is the fear of repressions that yet holds them from openly protesting. There are 1460 policemen per 100 thousand citizens in the country, leave alone secret police. In order for changes to happen, we need international solidarity, western politicians’ adherence to the principles regarding Lukashenka and support to the democratic movement”, - Natalia Radzina said.
In the parliament of Norway the Belarusians met representatives of various parties. At the meeting many issues were brought up, including that the PACE’s Parliamentary Assemble could do more than it does today, in particular, to take into consideration the Moscow mechanism, which is not being used in due way toward our country. At the Parliamentary Assembly’s February session these issues will be discussed, and Norwegian MPs will be there.
Andrei Sannikov and Natalia Radzina were also invited to open the documentary festival Human Rights Human Wrongs that started these days in Oslo. The first film on the festival’s program was the documentary by Madeleine Sackler ‘Dangerous acts starring the unstable elements of Belarus’. The documentary tells the story of the Belarus Free Theater. However the main line is not only on the theater group, many of whom had to leave Belarus after the presidential elections 2010.
The film shows the tragedy of Belarus – a country in the middle of Europe, which is not sexy – there is no oil, gas, sea or mountains. There are only people there, but people are not an attractive merchandise, that is why no one pays attention to the dictatorship in the center of Europe today.
“There has never been particular attention to Belarus, where a dictator has been ruling for 20 years already, where people are kidnapped and murdered, where there are political prisoners in jails, where all the rights and freedoms are violated. Yes, they have called our country Europe’s last dictatorship and… forgotten about it.
We are very grateful that human rights activists and civic activists all around the world show solidarity with our country, we have many friends here in Norway. But European bureaucrats practically close their eyes on what is taking place in Belarus: instead of decisive actions resolutions were made with no consequences for the authorities in case the resolutions get ignored. Sanctions were put in place, but of rather symbolical meaning.
It resulted into the people of Belarus losing 20 years, while many Belarusian heroes, who fought for the freedom of Belarus, gave their lives. Moreover, the virus of Lukashenka’s dictatorship is spreading to the neighboring countries today. Problems with democracy in Ukraine and Russia are the result of the fact that the West has been closing its eyes on the dictatorship in Belarus.”
Despite a terrible dictatorship existing in the center of Europe in 21st century, courageous people live there, who fight for freedom and European values.
We have islands of freedom, including ones like the Free Theater, the documentary on which we will see, there is the charter97.org web-site, other projects. We are doing everything possible for Belarus to become free. Help us with that. Belarusian people very much need allies and friends around the world”, - Natalia Radzina said at the festival’s opening.
Andrei Sannikov, who also became one of the film’s characters, stated:
“This is a wonderful festival, but not a very joyful event, since the films will be shown here about the countries, where human rights are violated. I am proud of being asked to speak before the documentary on the Belarus Free Theater and its founders, my friends Mikalaj Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada. This is a very bright and energetic theater that raises acute issues in my country and the world. The film’s director started working on this project before the 2010 presidential elections. Then the 19 December happened, a peaceful manifestation that was brutally dispersed. I was a candidate for president and on that night I was beaten and arrested, ended up in prison just like my wife and friends. Kolia and Natasha managed to escape Belarus, running from persecution. Madeleine Sackler did not expect for her film’s plot to develop in such a way. Neither did we. Our manifestation was a moment of spiritual upheaval, a hope for changes, for freedom. This gave the dictator animalistic fear, and he brutally suppressed the peaceful protest.
Hundreds of people ended up in prisons, where we were only saved by the solidarity of the people of Belarus and international solidarity. You could not imagine what letters mean for a political prisoner. We received them in thousands, me too. Many of them did not reach, but those that did from world’s different countries very much supported us. Norwegians wrote to me as well. Belarus has many friends here.
What happened in December 2010 in Minsk is today happening in the Ukrainian Maidan, which also requires our solidarity and support. It will not take you long to write letters to political prisoners, to sign a petition, to express your attitude towards a dictatorship. Believe me, even the simplest actions help consolidating the solidarity with the people fighting dictatorship like it is the case in Belarus. Now I want to teach you two most important words in the Belarusian language. Apart from helping you to emotionally connect with the documentary, you should know that these words help us live, fight and to us they mean a free future. I want these words to sound in support of Belarusian political prisoners: Ales Bialiatski, Mikalaj Statkievich and others as a demand for their release. Be sure, they will know about it. These words are “Zhyvie Bielarus!” (Long live Belarus! – ed.).
The audience took the call with enthusiasm. Hundreds of people, who filled the showing room, chanted the words “Zhyvie Bielarus!” in support of Belarusian prisoners of conscience.
The one and a half hours of the ‘Dangerous acts starring the unstable elements of Belarus’ documentary went in complete silence. People were astounded at the stories of the Free Theater’s actors, Andrei Sannikov, as well as the shooting of the Square’s dispersal on 19 December 2010, which led to about a thousand people being imprisoned.
As the audience’s numbness let go, the applause went on for long.
The showing of the documentary was attended by politicians, diplomats, civic activists as well as representatives of Norwegian Olympics Committee, who became more interested in the political situation in the region due to the Olympic Games in Sochi.
Many were really impressed that at the film’s end the words “Zhyvie Bielarus!” were said by and American actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who has recently passed.