Being interviewed by Belsat TV, politician Mikalai Statkevich told about uniting the opposition, betrayal and ‘squealing’, about the courage of Belarusians, inevitability of rigging and his intention to overturn the election.
“I was not informed of my release, and I collected all my things. Later, when I was riding in the bus and talking with my family over the phone, I said that I was released, and the usurper [Lukashenka] had been ‘buckled’. The people in the bus became silent. There was the atmosphere of fear – this is what our society has been brought to. However, when I was getting off, some people were smiling back at me, one man even said he was proud that he saw me. And then, in contrast, I saw a few hundred free decent people [who were meeting him at the bus station]! It was such a positive shock.”
“The election-2010 was rigged. But still, there was an apparently oppositional candidate who was willing to defend the interests and voice a compelling stand of at least 30% of voters who had democratic convictions. This time they [authorities] have fabricated ballot papers – their manipulations lead to the fact that a ballot paper does not list a single opposition candidate. If I had been released earlier I could influence the situation, could appeal to people to support, for example, Anatol Lyabedzka.”
“I do not believe in the democratization of the regime In case of democratization it will fall apart, and they [authorities] know it. They have released prisoners in order to get money from the West and at the same time to frighten Russia – in order to get money too.
At a minimum, there will be financial assistance from Russia. Russian journalists phoned me and asked to comment the situation. As I see it, they [Russians] are very frightened, they say, Lukashenka is going to the West. I told them to take it easy. There is no escaping for him because 20% of GDP is a Russian subsidies, because we export our non-competitive products to Russia, only oil products made of your cheap oil is sold to the West, I told them. There is nothing left, only potassium, but it is not enough.”
“In Leninski district police department I was told that eight-year preventive supervision would be imposed on me. This is a fairly mild form of supervision, but it is still supervision. For eight years I will not have the right to stand in elections. If I get three administrative penalties for a year (and you know how easy it may be organized), supervision become proactive. It means that I will have to stay at home nights, I will be under travel retrictions, the police will have the right to come to us at night to check whether I am at home. They may exert pressure to make me leave the country. In fact, they released conditionally and ‘hooked’. Lukashenka may send me back to prison at any moment.”
“The elections will be recognized by the West unfair and undemocratic. But Lukashenka is doing its best so that the final report would contain the words ‘there is ignificant progress’. It means that he has to ‘encourage’ Europeans: to lift sanctions, to communicate, to do business. But the real progress is that they are likely to even count ballots. Why shouldn’t he show international observers how they count papers, when the victory in his pocket, when there is no real opposition candidate and people will not go to the polls due to that, when they provide 30% of votes during early voting, when they have reduced the number of polling stations to one thousand, especially in the vilages?”
“Voting at such election does not make sense. We must demand a normal election, with the registration of candidates. I was deprived of the rights, my initiative group was illegally denied registration. My people warned: what if Statkevich will be released? Now I am released. They did have the right to collect signatures. I believe that my rights were violated, and I’m going to demand the cancellation of the election and seek to return to the beginning of the electoral process. I will talk about it loudly and publicly, and I hope other voters join me.”
I do not know [presidential candidate] Tatsyana Karatkevich personally, but I do know that another politician is pulling strings for her. And I know that this politician [Andrey Dmitryeu] betrayed in the critical situation, publicly betrayed democracy and his team. I have enough experience to realise that it was the biggest shame. <…> It seems to me that the unexperienced person [Karatkevich] is being used. How can I support a candidate if they are in leading strings?
“I want to thank everyone who supported me on Saturday, everyone who have been supporting me for all these years. I wish toexpress my appreciation to those people who came to show on December 189, 2010 that they are the Nation, they have honor and dignity and they are Belarusians. It is an Act with a capital letter. And I apologize to all those whom I did not manage to protectfrom beating and jailing.”
Editorial: the politician also thanked Belsat TV for our work and solidarity. Our team is very honored to hear it.
Interviewed by Hanna Azemsha