Lev Margolin: The question of boycott is private question
On Monday, representatives of six opposition political structures, which includes the BPF party, the UCP, the movement "For Freedom", the organizing committee of BCD party, the civil campaign "Tell the truth!", Left Party "A Just World" discussed the strategy of participation or nonparticipation in a campaign called "parliamentary elections".
Deputy Chairman of the UCP Lev Margolin told UDF.BY about the results of the meeting.
- How today's opposition congress on the boycott of parliamentary elections was going on? Did you adopted some common solution and a unified strategy? Who supported the boycott and who didn't?
- Firstly, we didn't address the issue of elections boycott. For us, the dilemma is not as follows: the boycott or participation. For us the question is in participation or non-participation, because the boycott is a form of participation.
Secondly, today's we have fixed a number of fundamental positions on which there is a complete unity of all six members of the coalition.
The first one: in our country there are no elections, and one can only talk about a political campaign "elections". And in order to consider elections as elections, one have to fulfill all the conditions on which we've made the statement a year ago.
Second: in the presence of political prisoners one cannot talk about free and fair elections in the country, no matter which procedures will be put in its basis.
Third: to take part in a political campaign is necessary. But we all understand that this political campaign can only be the part of a larger campaign. Its purpose is to consolidate the population, informing by means of its association in the country, in particular, why free and fair elections are needed, and the purpose of which must be an attraction of Belarusian people to the side of democratic forces - to the opposition side.
And the question of boycott or non boycott is a private question because the boycott also implies a certain participation, because the boycott also includes the nomination of candidates for members of electoral commissions at various levels in the organization of observation. And further there are come nuances that each party will address early separately. The majority believes that candidates should be nominated, because it is necessary to use information capabilities of the campaign, especially the possibility of talks on TV.
But in particular our party - the United Civil Party - believes that if the present situation continues, then to take part in the voting is, of course, impossible, and we will discuss this issue at the congress. But we are inclined to think that we will nominate candidates, but we will remove them afterwards.
- Who else decided to do the same?
- We expect to hold a public debate on this issue, so it wouldn't be only the decision of political parties, to take into account an opinion of the expert community, civil society, just everyone who want to comment on the issue. Our goal is to use this political campaign to the maximum. And it needs to listen to all points of view, and I think that we can come to a decision on the matter, but it will be later.
- So, the final common decision on the nomination hasn't been made yet?
- For us, the unity on a wider range of issues is far more important. I repeat: we are all, without exception, believe that at today's moment there are no elections. In these circumstances, we can only talk about nuances of the campaign in order to achieve our political goals.
- And if someone would nominate and continue the participation?
- You cannot force anyone, let's say. There can also be more different nuances: some will think that one can nominate candidates, but they are need to be removed, let's say, a month before or after the talks on TV. Someone will say, "No, it is necessary to give the authorities a possibility, maybe they will accept some conditions, and to remove five days before the voting" - here are the nuances. There are masses of different options and there is no dilemma: to just nominate and remove, or to nominate and not to remove. And they need to be discussed.
- But if this issue is addressed by different parties in different ways, will it reduce an overall effect?
- I think we will achieve some consensus on this issue. Even in the matter of technology. Although, again, even if different parties will act in a technologically different way, the main point is to prevent the increasing legitimization of the authorities as a result of these elections. All parties will be involved, this is for sure, and even if someone will participate to the very end until the voting, and, moreover, which is unlikely, if the state power decides to let someone in this "house", it won't in any way testify that there were free and fair elections. That is, all members of the opposition are to get in parliament in a natural way: as a result of the will of the population. And if this will declaration is not free, everything else is secondary.
- What do you think about Yuri Chausov statement, who said that "in case of the elections boycott, the authorities can eliminate parties"?
- The authorities can eliminate parties even if they take an active part in the elections, if they consider the existence of parties are not needed to them. But I don't think they are dare to do it, because it will look as even more discredit of the authorities in the eyes of the international community, and in the eyes of Belarusian people, which is even more important. Because, if you think that representatives of parties are somewhat powerless, don't represent some kind of broad interests, then why do you need to fight with them at all. To suggest the behavior of the authorities is difficult, because it's difficult to find some logic in their actions.
- That is, the use or misuse of this argument is unimportant?