Former political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich organized a picket near GUM department store in Minsk, demanding free elections.
On the evening of September 10, the Chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party “Hramada” and former political prisoner held a picket in Minsk, demanding democratic elections.
As I came to the GUM by the National Bank,I saw a crowd of people observed by an English tourist. I started shooting across the road, the foreigner said that it was dangerous. I shook shoulders. He came with me, I told him about what was happening here. When we approached the crowd, people intercepted the tourist and told him how Statkevich was different from Sannikov.
The atmosphere near GUM reminds me of friends’ meeting. Chairs, table, and something on the table are missing. Some women are hugging Statkevich, men are shaking his hand long and hard, the young wishe him success.
Those present come to see the one whom they sent a postcard in jail, and to ask if their letter had arrived. Statkevich says he received it all. The main thing that the candidate of the 2010 election wants to say to people today – he is going to invite Lukashenka to a sincere public conversation. The audience likes that idea, they shout “Long live Belarus!”, make selfies with the politician and go home. Picket lasts for an hour, then for another hour Statkevich is kept by the journalists.
Some try to find out what Statkevich thinks about Kolya Lukashenka. Statkevich said that “children are sacred,” but he does not know what will happen to the son of the head of Belarus, when he will face the real world, for now, “he lives in an artificial environment.” He would not let his children come to Belarus, “not to become hostages.” But after the 11th of October, the recent political prisoner hopes to invite them to Minsk.
The date itself, according to Statkevich, “does not exist, since there are no fair elections.” The recent political prisoner promises, however, to take advantage of all the features of the election campaign and be active until the 10th of October. He promises to tell about his plans soon.
When a policeman is trying to stop Statkevich, member of the opposition says that there are elections in the country and asks the lieutenant not to interfere with him talking with people. Law enforcer gets a protocol from 2010 on some activist, rewrites it, substituting only the name Statkevich, date and place of the event.
Statkevich refuses to sign it, the officer leaves.
“People in uniform, regardless of political views, respect me, people in power know it, and therefore usually send to me lieutenants. Their superiors are smarter and would not go.”
People begin to turn to Statkevich as if he was a military man asking if he would give them permission to fight against Russia, if it suddenly attacked us, like it did in Ukraine.
“You will not ask me, but do it on your own – says the creator of the former “Union of Belarusian officers.” – It is the duty of every man – to defend the country.”
“Our goal today is not to turn Belarus to the West or the East, but to achieve democracy,” said the leader of the Social Democrats. When asked what he thinks about the presidential form of government, Statkevich says that “perhaps Belarus should adopt Polish experience to have between the president and the prime minister a constant conflict, because if one wants to hand over the country, the other will not allow it.”
Gradually it darkens, people leave, around Statkevich stay several journalists and closest friends. Well, and a dozen security officers who go to all the Days of Freedom and Chernobyl Shlyakhs. They have the same faces and the same leather jackets from the same shop in Zhdanovichy market. For twenty-one year the same people have been trying to struggle with Lukashenka, the same people have been helping the first president to stay in power. It turns out that this was a meeting of friends, the feeling that the only thing missing is the food never leaves me.
Dzianis Dziuba, belsat.eu/en/