Irina Chalip: In a legal sense, we are all political prisoners, so long as the regime lasts

Why machinery of repression in Belarus is so developed? Why do people who work in the police, the KGB, prisons agree to follow orders that are often in conflict with the law, and contrary to human conscience and morality? For spoke Irina Chalip, Russian correspondent of “Novaya Gazeta” in Belarus,wife of politician, presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov.

Irina Chalip: This is not a national trait, and we’d rather should look for the historical roots here,in the long history of keeping people in intimidation what is practiced by generations , thus deformation of human consciousness and conscience follow. They think that they are exempt from liability each time they do a vicious order.In other words, there is a significantly larger scale of evil, but I am only a small man, and I have my life, I have to earn somehow to feed the family. If I go to a small compromise with my conscience, nothing would happen. And a whole responsibility in their view, held that evil. And that’s the mistake.They do not understand that everyone will be  responsible. Not accidentally in the whole world responsibility for the offence is born not only by  the direct perpetrator, but the one who ordered this crime too.

– However, cases of commission of such crimes are not noticed as a single ones nowadays.How widespread is the practice of torture and exceeding the limits of law-abidingnes?

Irina Chalip: I think this is a working system, not a collection of local cases. We crossed a critical mass above which the events exceeded the limits of the law.And we have to admit it honestly. And this is a national tragedy. It’s sad if somebody doesn’t notice that.

 – Do people know about this? Or does the public still lack something to this?

Irina Chalip: Most of all they lack the understanding that no one is really safe. As long as there is a presence of  overwhelming dissatisfaction with the general situation, the authorities and life , some element of naive and baseless hope smolders, that I would somehow miss it all. With me it does not have the right to happen , after all, I do not overreach. And until such thinking is cultivated, it will be hard. Attitudes like that are  just immoral. At least I can see it this way. It is as if  you might want to live quietly alongside the ongoing fighting in the front line. If you are silent, the worse for you.

However, with those who refuse to silence and speak aloud their point of view, authorities crack down without mercy? To what extent in your opinion , the situation with regard to human rights is complicated?

Irina Chalip: Paul Sewiaryniec put the situation in a very accurate words. After my trial in July he called me and said that he congratulates me, because it has just become one of a prisoner less.In the sense that the restriction has been removed from me, prohibition of going out in the evenings and the prohibition of opening the door to the police. However, we still remain in the  non-free country. And those who came out of prison, were  judged in the courts, legally still can not feel as free people . I’m not talking about the inner freedom that can not be taken from us, neither by the court nor by imprisonment, because in the moral sense we remain free men. That’s why I mention freedom in the legal sense. As till the moment of rehabilitation  there is no freedom in this sense. That’s why I do not like the term “former political prisoner” . Today,there isn’t a similar phenomenon in the country.We are still political prisoners as long as there is a power that keeps us prisoners. This is the case today with Jaromienak , Parafiankow, they give evidence to that. As an example, we may use a story that recently was told by Witalij Rymaszewski. In his region the crime was committed and police officers immediately called for this politician. They have a specific procedure, which is based on the monitoring of people with criminal records. And that is what we all are. To stop a man, even during some action, is already treated as a recurrence.  The same Sewiaryniec, say, did not have the status of the offender bcause in fact he was cleared of charges. But to the subsequent criminal case the previous judgment files were attached. That gave them the dangerous offender with a criminal record.

 – Speaking of inner freedom and the activities of the regime aimed at the suppression of  it ,what do you think, how far the authorities and services can go in their attempts to crush this state of mind? Is there any limit here?

Irina Chalip: It seems to me that all the limits were exceeded. This is admittedly on a certain level of metaphysical , but I still feel that Lukashenko constantly wants some blood sacrifices. That he still needs to sacrifice one’s life. For example, when Sergei Kowalenka was convicted for displaying a flag on New Year’s Christmas tree in Vitebsk , he announced a hunger strike that led him to the brink of death, it seemed to me that if , God forbid, something had happened  to him this would be a true happiness for Lukashenko. This is a purely metaphysical sense, but it seems to me that this is exackly how it is.



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Other political prisoners