Updated at 13:36,21-06-2021

Dzmitry Bandarenka: It’s sabotage time


Charter97.org speaks with the coordinator of the civic campaign "European Belarus", former political prisoner Dzmitry Bandarenka about the latest events.

- Can the boycott of the elections be considered an opposition success?

- Definitely. The opposition felt the attitude of people and the boycott was successful. In 2010 people saw several leaders, who corresponded with their expectations. That’s why there must have been the second round. That’s why the regime, having lost in the electoral field, shook off the liberal mask and exercised the extreme outrage. This caused the economic catastrophe of 2011 when the country’s GDP in USDs reduced for 40%. The Belarusian dictatorship took a deadly blow in December 2011 and today this half-sank ship is only moving with the help of the Russian tugboat.

If in 2010 we could talk about the solidarity of Belarusians in their reject of the dictatorship, then in 2012 we saw the solidarity in the absence of action. And it is yet to see what is more dangerous for the authorities.

- Why is the boycott dangerous for the authorities?

- Any authorities, including the totalitarian ones, lay claims to legitimacy and refers to popular support. Now Lukashenka’s lackeys and recruits are demoralized with the fact that the absolute majority of the citizens pointedly ignored their event called “elections”. If we put aside the ones who were forced to vote early, the real turnout would be not more than 10%. And what is the most frightening for Lukashenka is that it was clearly seen from Kremlin. Who needs a helpless dictator rejected by his own people?

- Why a part of the opposition decided to participate in the elections till the end?

- It often happens that in order to stand for their rights and defend their leaders people have to fall back upon a boycott and a strike. That’s when the strikebreakers appear, who tell that there are working for “the sake of people”. In reality strikebreakers always work for money and stand for people’s interests not but of the ones of their masters.

- The event of the past week are the release of one political prisoners and terrible pressure on others. How could that be explained?

- Still being imprisoned myself I was madly happy when any person was released. I’m very happy that Alena Kavalenka was able to hug her husband and Paval Syramalotau’s mother lived to see her son whom she hadn’t seen for almost two years. Why others are being put under such severe pressure? Apparently, another round of bargain has started over the Belarusian political prisoners. The regime is afraid of possible EU sanctions in October. As you know, Russia is taking away the “solvents and thinners life jacket”. It’s necessary to look for money in the West again.

- How can you comment on the meetings of the nuncio Gugerotti with the political prisoners?

- As a catholic I welcome the current activity of the Church and Vatican. Better late than never. After 19 December 2010 neither the heads of the Church, nor the Catholic administration in Belarus couldn’t even pronounce the word combination “political prisoner”. But today the Pope Benedict XVI prays for the Belarusian political martyrs and sends his envoy to them. In Belarus I used to often hear that the Church was out of politics. But the other day there was a 100 000 anti-government demonstration in Warsaw which was virtually organized by the Church. If the Polish Catholic Church hadn’t been together with people in the times of the dictatorship it wouldn’t have had such an authority today.

- How is it possible to prevent another criminal intention of the authorities – the trade in political prisoners?

- Simply – no negotiations with the Lukashenka regime on the part of the West and boycott of the dictatorship inside the country.

- Ok. We have boycotted the elections. What’s next?

- I’d want to repeat myself. Silent sabotage is often much more efficient than dynamic activities. That is another form of resistance, which is much more numerous than a demonstration. How nervous the authorities were about the people silently clapping their hands in the streets! It is very scary for the regime that is why they introduced a legal alogism “collective action or lack of action”. Now already millions of people have become their invisible enemies. Today it’s time to collectively boycott and sabotage the dictatorship. And tomorrow – the activity wave will come back again. Read Gene Sharp and get ready for the final battle.