"One thing is expected from Europe: to be true its principles. Not to ignore a single violation of human rights, not to try to reform the dictator – it is impossible, and to understand that changes in Belarus can happen very quickly." ~Andrei Sannnikov
People are fed up with the 16 years of rule of the dictator. It is felt everywhere.
It has been stated in an interview to “Voice of America” by the leader of “European Belarus” campaign, a presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov.
Last respects have been paid in Minsk to the founder of the oppositional Internet portal Aleh Byabenin. His body was found in his summer cottage not far from Minsk on September 3. The General Prosecutor Office of Belarus has come to an opinion that Byabenin had committed suicide.
However a coordinator of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Andrei Sannikov, who was Byabenin’s colleague for a long time (the deceased was a member of his campaign headquarters), doubts that the official version is true.
- What could you say about the investigation?
- The needed investigatory actions are not carried out. The summer cottage, in which Aleh was found, has not even been sealed. I mean, right after inspection of the scene of the incident, they worked according only one version, a suicide. If there would be any other versions, they would seal up the house probably. Aleh’s car had not been sealed up as well.
They have not lifted fingerprints from a surface. The inspection of the incident site was superficial. They do not inform about the date of the death still: when I arrived to the site of the tragedy, they told me assuredly that Aleh had died on the same day, about the afternoon. After the autopsy they said, assuredly again, that he had died the day before. I can suppose that there are signs which allow determining a possible time of the death, and there could not be a gap of about a day between them.
All these facts raise certain doubts. Moreover, Aleh Byabenin did not a bit resemble a person planning to commit suicide.
- Are there any facts that allow supposing that Aleh Byabenin’s death was not a suicide?
- People disappear, people are murdered in our country, and serious investigation of such cases is not carried out. Aleh had been abducted, beaten up, he had been threatened…
You know, a person who opposes the dictatorship, who speaks about that publicly and works against the dictatorship openly, cannot feel secure.
- The histories of Belarus there have been some examples of mysterious disappearances and assassinations of people who were considered Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s opponents. Some of them were committed many years ago. Have investigators detected any new facts over this time?
- No new facts have been detected. The position of the Russian TV channels has changed. They have started to speak about these facts. But there is enough evidence that high-level officials of Belarus could be involved in that.
We have addressed all the permanent members of the UN Security Council for them to facilitate in conducting an international investigation. There is a precedent already: investigation into the murder of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon Hariri. Unfortunately, for today there is no reaction either from Russia or from the United States.
- How the situation in Belarus has changed after tensions in the relations with Russia started? Earlier interlocutors of the Voice of America feared that the story with the attack against the Russian Embassy in Minsk would be used by the authorities of Belarus for crackdown on the opposition…
- It is already happening. Interrogations concerning Aleh’s death are a preparation for more serious actions. I’m afraid there will be searches, confiscations, pressure and threats.
The situation is very tense. After Russia changed its attitude to Lukashenka, on the one hand there is a panic here, which can bring about any actions by the authorities. On the other hand, there is a desire of the authorities to use the old methods and to curb all alternative point of views in the harshest manner, including violence.
- The presidential election is coming. What outcome could be expected, as you think?
- There is a great probability of changes. People are simply fed up with 16 years of dictatorial rule. It is felt everywhere. There is no fear any more; there is only mistrust in one’s own forces. Polls show that Lukashenka does not enjoy support of all age groups of the population. A conclusion could be made that changes will be welcomed by the entire society.
And it is also clear what the repressive machine would make. One can speak positively that the dictatorship will try to maintain Lukashenka’s regime by all means known to it.
- Can other states – Russia, the US, the European Union, – influence the results of the presidential elections?
- Yes, they can. Lately the main sources of financial support for Lukashenka’s regime are in the West, not in the East. Europe, which tried to speak with Lukashenka for a long time, offered him all kinds of dialogues, could have taken a more principled stand. As he can receive financial backing only there.
Today we are at a crucial moment in the history of Belarus. But unfortunately, there are voices heard in Europe that Russia is a permanent evil, so as Russia has started to criticize Lukashenka, Europeans should support Lukashenka. Such ideas, offered by some lobbyists of Lukashenka from Western Europe, are fraught with grave consequence for us.
One thing is expected from Europe: to be true its principles. Not to ignore a single violation of human rights, not to try to reform the dictator – it is impossible, and to understand that changes in Belarus can happen very quickly.