Ales Bialiatski: “Election” is show with pre-planned result
During the press-conference which was held in the editorial office of the weekly of Belarusians in Poland, “Niva”, in Bialystok, Ales Bialiatski touched upon the issue of political prisoners and the trial over Yury Rubtsou, which exactly was taking place in Pruzhany then, Radio Racyja informs.
“This year, despite its relative calm, is a rather troubled one. And it poses certain questions and create challenges to the Belarusian civil society, community, the Belarusian nation, but also to representatives of the country’s authorities,” Ales Bialiatski noted in the beginning of his speech.
“Firstly, unfortunately, the situation in Belarus has not changed recently. The last positive thing was my release; almost a year has passed, and no changes in the public life, in the issues of human rights and democratization in the country have happened. We still have political prisoners. Today the trial over Yury Rubtsou, condemned for peaceful protest, is taking place. His story started in fact from a T-shirt “Lukashenka, quit!”, and now this story is to continue in a colony probably. Rubtsou has started with a struggle for his labour rights, he didn’t sign labour contracts and so on, that is, his struggle had a social nature first, but finally he realized that the political system itself forms these social relations between a person and the state. That is why he started wearing that T-shirt. Now he refuses to work for a low salary in the correctional labour facility. I asked him whether he understands that he would be imprisoned, and he said that he knew, but it was his protest. He is a conscious fighter for his rights, and for human dignity in general.”
“The attitude of the authorities to political prisoners is not changing. And Yury Rubtsou could be parallelled with Mikalai Statkevich, whose incarceration conditions have been worsened after he was transferred from a colony to a closed prison,” the human rights activist continues.
“It looks very much like being kept in a remand prison, however one is limited in meetings and parcels. When I was in a remand prison before the trial for three months, and after the court, and finally “hopped” into the colony, it was almost like liberation for me – I could see the sky. It is impossible in prison. And besides, Statkevich is kept in a cell alone.”
Besides, Ales Bialiatski recalled the situation with a political prisoner Mikalai Dzyadok, whose imprisonment term was prolonged for a year recently.
“They added to his term in an absolutely mean way, three days before his term was to finish.”
According to the human rights activist, these are signals to the entire Belarusian society in the run-up to the “election”: “the same could happen to anyone of you.” In fact, the electoral campaign has started with obvious signals of intimidation of the Belarusian society, which is demonstrated by the extradition of Alena Tankachova, a human rights activist, who has spent most of her life in Belarus, from the country.
Ales Bialiatski noted alarming signals regarding independent mass media and journalists. As said by him, actually over the period of the last year and since the beginning of this year constant pressure on journalists contributing to independent mass media like Radio Racyja, Belsat, the European Radio and so on, is exerted.
“A moral coercion on democratic journalists is exerted, in order to make them keep silent or stop cooperation with independent mass media. The situation has become worse when a new law on mass media was passed last year. It equaled independent websites with mass media. We see that over the last month several websites have received official warnings with a demand to explain who their owners are. It is a moral coercion on teams working at these websites. Notably, the grounds are arbitrary; no one even knows what the grounds for the official warning to tuzin.fm, a music website, are. Nevertheless, as it seems to me, it is still “area fire.” Later they are going to “shoot off” the websites they consider dangerous during the election campaign, as it is a preparation to the presidential “election” yet again. We could expect that in the near future,” Ales Bialiatski said.
“The election” is to take place in the same way like previous times, no one expects any surprises, the authorities themselves have given a signal there are going to be no changes. It means that there will be rigging, not to mention the practice of forming commissions and so on. There will be no real election campaign,” Ales Bialiatski said. “The election” is a show with a pre-planned result. One can change names, but take results from the previous campaign. However there are things that are worrying the authorities of Belarus now. In the end of the previous year Belarus entered an economic crisis, the Belarusian ruble collapsed by 30% last year, later it became 10% cheaper again, problems with product sales started, and decline is 40% over the recent months, goods overflowed warehouses, enterprises have serious problems and transit to an incomplete working day. The authorities do not want mass dismissals before the election, as it is to provoke social tensions.”
“That is why they are looking for loans now, in order to ease these social tensions before the “election”, and to maintain at least the present economic level. However, there is no hope for Russia, they have their own problems. Consequently, they are looking for funds in Europe, and this “campaign of mending relations with the EU” undoubtedly has economic overtones. They are trying to collect at least something. Paradoxical things happen: on the one hand, nothing is changing, and on the other hand, the rhetoric is heard: “we are ready for changes and cooperation,” while there is no clear answer to the questions of political prisoners, human rights, death penalty. A populist rhetoric is used, which is not backed by real actions,” the human rights activist stressed.