Aleksandr Milinkevich: I don't want Lukashenko to fall under the rubbles of Belarus
"If the government does not understand that economy collapses and independency is threatened, it will hardly remain till the 15th year. But our responsibility requires to have single leader," This is what Aleksandr Milinkevich, leader of the Movement for Freedom, is sure about.
The politician told about why he did not manage to conduct nice election campaign, shared the plans for perspective and explained why belorussian opposition needs modernization. "With dictatorship we have 10 times less chances rather than when we are united," the politician convinced.
"The main aim for the authorities is to control everything"
Aleksandr, you wanted to conduct this parliamentary campaign, after which people would say: he is a nice guy, did a cool campaign and he was obviously winning. But you simply haven`t been registered as a candidate. Why has it happened so?
- Exactly by this reason – that I wanted to win, but not just to play the elections (laughing). I suppose there was such possibility.
I was hesitating long – is there any sense to participate – because it was well known for everybody that there are no elections. But I'm very happy that I applied: the contact with people make the politics much more than sitting in the Internet. For me personally it is very interesting; I came to conclusions, which I would not achieve without meetings with voters.
And I understood that it is really possible to talk with people. Depression is big, but people does not believe to anything, they don’t trust even in themselves, without taking into account government or opposition. But after conversation with them you can understand that they want changes. Changes – is the key word; whoever you start talking, even with not the opposition supporters, they ask "What are you for?" – "For changes". "Let`s sign up".
The reaction to the changes is significant. But you have to show that you are not going to pop out with a sword at the ready and to cut off heads, but you want to achieve civilized changes, evolutional and solid. You know how to do it and you know how other countries came to it.
I managed with it and I liked it.
- Aleksandr, the decision of government not to allow you into the House seems to be illogical. You are the person, whom international structures listen to, the person who speaks against any economical sanctions in Belarus in principle. You alone would do much more at the international level, than Kobiakov with all of the administration of the President. If only the brain of government functioned…
-Because the government is guided not by the interest of reestablish of the contacts with Europe. Even though it is very important, and even the signals has been sent, that is makes sense to reestablish the contacts.
First of all, government is guided, by the desire of its "stabilization". But we understand that stabilization is stagnation, where we have already had experience to live, and have to live again. And secondly: "stabilization" – is keeping of the model, which doesn’t work. When my 89 years old grandmother tells me that her position is for changes, and a young person tells that he wants changes, and the government doesn’t understand the necessity of those changes – this is the tragedy for the country.
The government didn’t let me into the House because the main target for the government is to control everything at all levels. Even in parliament, which has a little power and does not have any credentials. The most important is that they don’t want to hear the voice stand out from the gray mass. The government is not ready for the situation when the discussion is needed and it is important to make debates and to defend your point of view.
If I got into the parliament – it s clear that I would be let into the parliament, even despite the fact that I would have been elected by people. But taking in attention the fact tha the government controls everything, it would have let me in. I would not be ashamed to get even in such parliament. I suppose that it is the situation when it is necessary to think of the interests of the country. I can do a lot for the country. First of all, for the reestablishment of the relationships with civilized world. I think that even there is one person like this, who has been let by the government, and if this person is decent (and I think I am decent, he could became an Ombudsman for human rights activist, he could speak on problems of violation on human rights , of violation of law. There are such examples in the history of East Europe history when they have transited from totalitarian regime to democracy.
Government didn’t decide on this step, because government is guided not be the interests of the country, but by the interest to safe itself. For the government today it is very dangerous to let for this level even units of people. Moreover, to reestablish the relationships with the West – today it is enough to let political prisoners out. That ia why West puts the stress exactly on this point, and fairly, because for us it is also superimportant, that our friends will came out from the prison. It seems like government considers democracy as something needed for the West but not for us, for Belarus, without understanding that it is the base for development. Democracy for belorussian government is concession, excuse for negotiations.
Europe will reestablish the dialogue if Minsk will let the political prisoners out, because it is important both for Belarus and European Union. As to opinion of the government, there is a sense in making certain liberalization steps already at the next election. For the government – the later the better. But for the country – the later the worse. There is a dissonance in voices: the interest of the government diverges more and more from the interests of the country.
"I still think that boycott is moral position"
- You did not manage with election campaign. What is next?
- I go to Vitebsk on the 11th of September and I will be speaking together with the deputy of Nikolai Statkevich to the Narodnaya Hramada, for whom I am the trustee.
The hardest impression, which the company leaved to me – is absolute depression; people does not believe in anything they neither trust to the government, nor the opposition, even nor themselves. Let the children leave the country, even though we don’t want it. To release people from the total hopelessness, we must exist, we must being close. And to show that we know what to do with the country.
I will be travelling as much as I have energy, I will travel to be next to others. I used to do the same job during another elections, but now I will have bigger geography, but the concentration of work will be less.
-In the Frunzenskiy electorial district of Minsk No 101 some of oppositional forces make the operation of boycott. Are you participate in it personally?
- The Movement for Freedom takes part in boycott. Some even say: decide yourself – are you for boycott or for the elections?
I still think boycott is moral position. If there is no democracy, so we don’t play such games with government. To my mind, it is the way to tell to Aleksandr Lukashekno: you are not democrat! But everybody already knows it in our country, foreign partners also know it. And it makes no sense to proof it again.
Some say: boycott does not legitimize elections. But in Belarus it is not legitimate since 1996! Independently from the fact, if the opposition takes part in it or not.
Moreover, to organize the boycott, it is necessary to have colossal resources, first of all, human resources and financial – it is a job much harder than the job of candidate. To make a boycott you need to have huge influence in society. If the government has no influence in society (in my district we made a social research: candidate from the government can gain only 17 %), so what to tell about opposition? Even me, not so famous person, even if I would go to the election without campaign, I would have gained about 25% and didn’t win! You must work very very hard to take 50%. I wanted to do it.
Boycott for me is moral position; I can not see the result, what it can lead to. We must go and honestly tell to people that there is no elections. I told it in 2006. But we are existing!
Already today raises the question: to take part or not to take part in the regional elections of 2014 (or 13th). I tell: for sure to take part! The country, which is at the situation of total hopelessness, will not make any reforms – neither opposition, nor opposition, if it will come to power. With such state of society we will not manage with reforms, because we have to be one family, we have to believe.
That is why we have to work with people, to raise the mood, to break the unbelief – we are not worse than other.
"To fight with Lukashenko is not enough"
- For the parliament campaign opposition went with different ways: some for boycott, some for the participation till the end, some for the participation with removal. How it will come out from this campaign?
- There is no need to do a tragedy from the fact that there are different approaches, these are tactic approaches: some for boycott, some for limited participation, some for the participation till the end. The most scary is when we start to hang tags to each other: betrayers, "Zaitsev fraction". Right ones, moralists. We reduce the impact to the society, which became more and more depressive. So is it our goal?
No, it is not our goal. The most important, even with different approaches, is to the evaluation of the elections – we are united here. Everybody says that there are no elections, that it is not democratic, unfair.
After the elections those processes are possible and they will keep going in opposition. Some will tell that the most important is the work with people. Maybe we are tired of this phrase, but it is true. This is the influence to the society, this is the winning in their minds, and the others will say that the most important is to fight with Lukashenko. We should fight with regime. To fight with Lukashekno is not enough.
The most typical which I receive is that you tell us that Lukashnko is bad. But we know it! Tell us, why with you it will be better? We are the fighters for the truth, they are the fighters for the truth. And where is the exit? Prople want to see this exit.
The devision by those who is fixated at the Lukashenko and who think how to tell once more about the handicap of his policy, and who want to convince people that we are better than he is – this part will stay. As to me, frankly speaking, it is not interesting anymore to talk about this regime. There is a part of society which will never be with us and it tells – good that it is a dictatorship! Why to work with such people? We have to fight for the silent part (and it is at least the half of the society), to say that we are alternative.
"We need the leader for perspective"
- And how to achieve union of opposition? Is it possible?
- This is No. 1 task.
In a dictatorship we have much less chances rather when we are united. In 2001 it was single candidate, in 2006 – it was. In 2010 – we were at the elections with a ten of candidates – one is for social-democraticy, another is for liberalism… Please: there are no such opinions In our society, our society is still politically immature. The society is protest – yes. If there is one candidate – much more than 30 thousands would come to the Ploshcha, because it is mobilization factor.
I think, after the elections we have to say one to another lets forget about all the injuries, about all the accusations; lets be people respectable and responsible. Responsible not only for ourselves and our parties, but for the country. And lets find the way to determine the leader. It is possible to find the leader and we used to have schemes. In 2001 the scheme was bad: five people closed themselves in a room and choose one in a strange way. In 2006 (not because I was elected)it was some mechanism, maybe not ideal, - election by Congress of democratic forces. In 2007 we have done a mistake, when replaced Institute of leader with five co-chairs. Look: in 2007 there is no congress at all! Independence is threatened, economy collapses, and useless NPP is building – and there is even no Congress!
To hide all the ambitions and to try to find decent person to whom we work. Moreover: even if the work will be during the Lukashenko`s governing, it should be person with perspective. We must not destroy him before the next elections, but to support, work to him, and it may be the leader for the next elections.
Although I don’t know how the situation will be in the country. If the government does not understand that economy collapses and independency is threatened, it will hardly remain till the 15th year. But our responsibility requires to have single leader. I will try to call everyone to that.
-And among the present politicians can you see the "Leader for perspective?"
- There is no such obvious leader. But lets take me for example. In 2006 being not that much politician, but social activist, seing born in Hrodna with 0% rate. After my election for the single candidate in a Congress in 2006, my rate rasied up to the 18% during two minths. And it is not my personal merit, but of the union – everybody believed that they are working for one person. That is why an advance for such leader is very high, if we will decide. And if everybody will be united (in 2006 not all of us has united, even though it was declared) – there are some chances.
The expectations in society are huge. We have to think all the time – what do people need? People say: you can not agree now, and if we elect you – you will kill each other! We have to proof to people that we can agree.
"The opposition needs modernization of relationships"
-Aleksandr, it is a lot spoken on the topic of "European dialogue about modernization with Belarus". But not everyone knows what is it and how it functions. What kind of project is it?
- We mustn’t wait that the initiator of this program "European dialogue about modernization with Belarus" – Brussels will decide our problems of reforms in Belarus instead of us. It is only us who can and must do it.
The other conversation is that Europe is ready to help us with its experts. Neighboring countries: Poland, Check Republic, Estonia, Lithuania – are ready to help us with its experience – positive and negative. But we have to determine the plan of this work, goals and results forecast.
I don’t think that it has to be a big miracle of experts work, which has to show us – we won. The work will win. But we have to show to all the society that we are together and we have been working together, we used the experience of others, and we can actualize our project. And just to have drafts, which we can correct every day. But without such document it is hard – both for us and to convince the society that we can change something. We must have "Road map".
By the way, those who made the Orange revolution in Ukraine, had great "Road maps", but they left unauthorized. The quarrel started inside opposition itself – and we have to learn this lesson also.
-This work has to give program for reformation of Belarus. The Movement for Freedom also has been doing this work for a long time, we have "The People's Platform" – not because people are writing it, but because more than 40 experts presented their opinion of the reformation in different destinations and they discuss it with people, with target groups, their attitude, their reaction. "The People's Platform" is used by 40 candidates in frame of this campaign.
This is not a panacea, sure. This is the way of Brussels to discuss with those group of society, which thinks of the country, tries to forecast its reformation, because he government doesn’t shows such signals.
- Then it is said “European dialogue about modernization with Belarus”, it means usually the modernization of state system of the country. But the polinical scientist Pavel Usov said his sober view that in parallel with modernization of the state system we have to do also modernization of belorussian opposition. And really: in power and in opposition 18 years – the same faces, they got used to each other, and learned how to coexist. But the brlorussians are somewhere outside.
Unlike the reforms in state – social, political, economical, reformation in the opposition is much harder to make. Opposition is not united mechanism, not the governmental system with hierarchy.
I agree that reformation is needed. But I would say not about structured reformation (it is important to put everyone in one line, it will not succeeded), but it makes sense to reform connected to approaches: responsibility – irresponsibility, understanding – misunderstanding, egoism – altruism. People have to answer to the most important question: Are they able to work together or not? Work together. There is no need to cut everyone by one boss (even though we aim to find one leader, but he will not be boss, on whom we all will work).
Last years we lost the knowledge how to work together. To fight with each other we can very successfully, and then Lukashenko rests compared to that.
Modernization is needed, but the real modernization of relationship, not of the structures. There is no mutual work, no mutual strategy, no mutual plan. And the union is possible only when there is mutual work.
- Lukashenko said to cut the unnecessary ambassadors (seems like of the Western destination), but to increase an amount of diplomats, connected to Russia. Intensification of economical and political relations requires, as it is said…
Today the government has no strategy to reestablish the relation with civilized world. It shouldn`t be like that – if we can not work with the West, didn’t learn to that or we have damaged the relations, so we don’t need the ambassadors. This is the path to a dead end.
It is very important to understand one thing. The relation with Russia are needed – warm and friendly, and with Kazakhstan and with China. But the country needs what – the gas for low prices, same area of customs duties, or technologies, with the help of which we will be able to produce competitive production?
The most necessary is technologies; cheap gas and oil – like a drug, is harmful; the later we come to this treatment, the more dependant we became. If we need modernization, know-how, investments – this is European Union. Not China, not Venezuela, and even not Russia. Russia itself asks European Union to make modernization. There will be no modernizations without contracts with the West.
And it may be said it a simple scheme: the government must to let the political prisoners, who are not quilt. It gives immediately the opportunity for country to come out from the deep economical crisis. If for government it is more important to intimidate people with an experience of our friends, who are in prisons – it will hardly happen. People are afraid less already. Less – because they are tired of the scare. And the amount of people who want another future for Belarus, another way of development, increases
Some say that I support Lukashenko with my position.
There is a real danger that the government will collapse the country: will sell the sovereignty to Russia or it will be total poverty, when it will be possible to buy Belarus for nothing. Europe is not interested in it, and they will not do it…
I don’t want Lukashenko to fall under the rubbles of Belarus – we all, belorussians, will be under those rubbles.