Svetlana Alexievich to Alexander Lukashenko: Leave before it is too late

August 12, 2020, 22:35, Radio Svaboda

Svetlana Alexievich

We have invited Svetlana Alexievich, a writer and a Nobel Laureate, to share her view on the current political situation in Belarus.

— What do you think about the situation in Belarus in the last three days?

—I think the government has declared war on its own people. The nation is radicalizing before my eyes. No one could have imagined the way AMAP (Special Purpose Mobile Unit) would behave. We have seen this happening in other countries, but in our case, they shoot into a car with a young child, who is now covered in blood, beat a pregnant woman, suffocate detained people by pressing a knee to their necks – which is the reason why black American citizens have risen up. They simply grab people on the streets. Those who are detained sit in gyms without food and water. But the most important thing is that the people are completely peaceful. Today, women formed a human chain, asking: we want to know the truth about the elections, and do not kill our men. They brought flowers, prayed at the Eternal Flame memorial. And when they started dispersing, AMAP attacked them. I am not even talking about what happens at night. Those actions are basically hostilities.

— Based on your understanding, are people convinced that Lukashenko has lost to Tsikhanouskaya?

— Absolutely certain. And I know where that is coming from. No one can see those around them who love Lukashenko, who defend him the same way they used to. How, after everything that is happening on our streets, can one believe in this person? There are rumors that there are a lot of Russian AMAP operatives here; so says Anatol Lyabedzka, and he must have verified sources. Who would and could love this? Belarusians constantly stress that we are peaceful people, that we won’t beat or kill anyone. AMAP acts with almost inhuman, satanic rage; I am finding it hard to believe that this is Belarusian AMAP. It seems to me that Belarusian boys would not have been able to beat their mothers and sisters this way. In small towns where everyone knows each other, AMAP refuses to beat people. People don’t want to beat their own people. But what is happening here (in Minsk) is unreal.

— How do you regard the departure of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya?

— I agree with the opinion of many that she did her job. She was and remains a symbol of change, of thirst for a new life and honesty, of self-sacrifice for the people and her husband. In the end, a person is not omnipotent. She did what she could. I cannot say anything bad about her. I guess the men should come to the forefront now. When there is the National Salvation Front, the elite must gather; society must join the struggle, not just these three little women. They are all wonderful, each in their own way – and Veranika Tsapkala and Maria Kalesnikava. Maria is still at her post. But when one must sacrifice children, and considering how our government can act and intimidate, it is not surprising that two women – Sviatlana and Veranika – left the race. But I think they will be back.

 — Could you take on the role of a mediator?

— Whose mediator?

— Between those who are now in conflict.

— If I were a bit younger and not sick, then definitely, yes. And now I will help with all the strength I have, but I no longer have the physical or the mental strength to lead this movement.

— What would you like to say to those people who went out to protest and might still go?

I am grateful to them for saving our dignity. I’ve just been falling in love with my own people these last few weeks. These are completely different people; there is a completely different power in these people. I used to be slightly disappointed – but not anymore. We need to be more organized. The fight will find its leaders. Everyone decided that these girls would do everything.

— And what would you like to say to Lukashenko?

— You have already asked me about this. I would like to say what Svetlana Kalinkina said perfectly – leave nicely. But it will not work; there is already blood. Leave before it’s too late, before you throw the people into a terrible abyss, into the abyss of civil war. Leave.

Nobody wants a Maidan, nobody wants blood. Only you want power. It is your desire that requires blood.

Voting protocols should be hung at all polling stations so that people can see how they voted. Let’s do that. Let people see how many and for whom were the votes. I think Sviatlana (Tsikhanouskaya) won, I have no doubt. People want change.

August 12, 2020, 22:35, Radio Svaboda