Two trends in the opposition. Interview with Vital Rymasheuski

Many Belarusian officials and representatives of business have been enlisted on the so-called blacklist of the European Union. This means that they are not allowed to visit European countries, as well as their monetary assets should be frozen. Perhaps the main condition for the withdrawal of the list is the release of political prisoners. But Vital Rymasheuski, the Co-chairman of BCD party says, that people from the blacklist resort to other methods to be removed from it. The politician gave an interview to

Vital Rymasheuski: I know that Belarusian oligarchs actively use the legal possibility of appealing against their inclusion on the list of people not being able to enter the European Union. They complain to the European courts, some people even win cases. The first problem lies in the fact that it is done non-publicly. The oligarchs and lawyers representing them, claim that they were wrongly placed on the list. The fact that they do not want to do that publicly is completely understandable, because it would be easy for public opinion to undermine their justifications. For me, it is clear that the position of the European Union has become milder towards the regime and the country. The EU tries by all means to start a dialogue. But such steps as removing from the list people who are banned to enter the EU, in this case the oligarchs, is simply  unacceptable. As not a single demand of the European Union has been fulfilled, political prisoners are still behind bars.

– Has the human rights situation in Belarus changed? Soon the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius will take place, the invitation for the participating countries have already been sent, will the relations with the West alter?

Vital Rymasheuski: I think that the situation of human rights have worsened. Now we have a new electoral law, which are more discriminatory in nature , they allow to limit opposition political parties and movements even more. We also have  new political prisoners, the authorities are still using the infamous article 193.1 – activity on behalf of an unregistered organization. In addition, they use the article under which people are accused of the state treason. Therefore, I believe that the situation in the country deteriorates. In this way, the authorities are preparing for the next election. Therefore, as far as the European Union position is being concerned, the internal politics depends on the will and decisions of the EU politics. And us , the Belarusian civil society, need to speak that it is not acceptable to whiten Belarusian oligarchs. That the state media write about these people that they honestly earned their money. But that’s not true. Modern Belarusian oligarchs do not honestly earn money. Almost everywhere there is corruption, they simply serve the Belarusian authorities .

– How do you explain the appearance of such articles in the independent media? Does anyone have overlooked something or they are specially written?

Vital Rymasheuski: You know, it’s all planned policy. The thing is that there are two trends in the Belarusian democratic community. The first trend to which the Belarusian Christian Democracy belongs, believes that cooperation with the currently existing regime is impossible, you cannot demonstrate loyalty in return for their loyalty, and then bargain for yourself some dividends. We believe that it is necessary to organize protests, pressures. This does not mean that we stand for some brutal methods, but we rely only on our own strength and public support to demand concessions from the regime in any field.

And the second trend is convinced that it is possible to enter a game with Lukashenko, that it is possible to haggle, to convince the oligarchs close to the regime. Sometimes they try to convince officials close to the President. The activity of this trend will be more secure in the sense that they are able to negotiate security for themselves. But one should be aware that all this will be only for a time, until there are destroyed the toughest opponents of the regime. The current regime is not going to make any concessions, and relations with the European Union reflects this. And that’s why I think the mild steps towards the regime are totally incorrect. Eventually, it may even lead to disaster, and we all will be a victims to that.

– What about these forms of non-violent struggle to attract Belarusian citizens?

Vital Rymasheuski: This is a paradox, but now the only way for Belarusians to protect their property , freedom, and their rights is only by use of non violent protests. And this is deliberately done by citizens, even without the participation of civil society organizations or opposition. There are organized spontaneous actions, strikes, protests against, for example, killing of farm animals. And when people come out to protest, of any kind, they manage to stop for a moment the regime and protect themselves. Such joint actions are the only successful way to fight against the current regime. History shows, that regimes make no concessions to the citizens of their own countries. Changes come only through organized protests and non-violent fight for freedom. And it is also a way for Belarus.


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Other political prisoners