Aleksei Shydlovski: Belarus from abroad is perceived differently, but the attitude to the political opposition in the country is unchanging

Aleksei Shydlovski is a precursor of a trend to write in color paint slogan “Zyvie Bielarus.” He served a sentence for that and was expelled from the university. In the late 90’s in Belarus this trend was not so popular. It is clear that even if Aleksei was forced to leave the country for a few years, still all are sure that not for too long … A former political prisoner, a member of the Young Front, a member of organization Zubr, and a political refugee Aleksei Shydlovski gave an interview to

– Aleksei, you live in Prague. How Europeans perceive Belarus and events in it? Has this perception changed during the years you have spent abroad?

– I left six years ago. Relatively, this is not long time. However, when you are on exile, without the possibility of visiting the country, during this period you start to collect memories about home town and of the most beautiful images. But that’s not enough. So my perception of Belarus and events that take place there is very subjective. I have not been able to change completely and I still continue to follow Belarusian media. In morning I always open Nasha Niva, and then

Belarus from abroad seems to me different. Idealistic and romantic notions have been changed by the pessimistic view of the situation. I do not foresee any time soon change for the better, but I would be very happy if I am wrong.

– How do you remember today criminal proceedings initiated against you?

– This is one of the brightest card of my life! I find it difficult to assess how my life would be like, if there were no such cases. But one cannot deny that they build a line of my life. I made a lot of good and a lot of bad friends, I met a lot of used and wasted opportunities, even my personal life was in some way related to these criminal proceedings. Bad things one forgets quickly, even the worst experiences I remember jokingly today. My wife, however, does not understand these jokes, and she cannot understand how I can recollect it all with a smile. But that is an integral part of my life. I do not know whether in my life will appear something else (besides the birth of my son) that will have such an immense impact on my psyche and memories.

– Are conditions in Belarusian prisons, which must be endured by the political prisoners, changing in some way?

– I Just recently met with Sasha Atroshchenkau and we talked about it. He told me stories of 2011, and it seemed to me that he tells the story of 1998. All identical. So I think everything is what it was before.

– How do you imagine a return to the homeland?

– I can imagine. But not any time soon. It would entail with the cancellation of criminal cases, cessation of persecution of political opponents of the regime, etc. A hundred of refugees spoke about it before me, I do not want to repeat. I imagine, however, also return without all this conditions and it is not for me so unlikely. Time will tell. For now, I am trying to make a living.

– Are in the Czech Republic and the European Union information about our political prisoners? Does the average European knows anything about them?

– Again, I will answer subjectively. Certain democratic circles in the Czech Republic, with which I have contact, demonstrate the knowledge of the subject. But sometimes I talk to people, who are not big-to-date with politics and those on the slogan “Belarus” have no association. Some have some associations when they hear about Lukashenko but rarely. Not to mention our political prisoners. Everyone has their own problems, Czechs, too. And here they attract all the attention of the public.

Other political prisoners