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Independence is important for Belarusians

Independence is important for Belarusians

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Members of the Movement For Freedom (MFF) who participated in recent rallies against the in-depth integration of Belarus and Russia share their impressions and talk about the protection of independence.

Four rallies were held recently against integration with Russia and in support of Belarus’s independence — on December 7-8 and 20-21. There were speeches on those days, as well as marches and a ‘human chain’ when people lined up along the Independence Avenue holding each other’s hands. December 20 witnessed the largest number of participants when, according to human rights activists, some 1,600 people took to the streets.

The event was attended by the MFF members not only from Minsk, but also from a number of regions.

Hubarevich: There could be ten times more people supporting the independence

“The events that took place in Minsk and in the whole of Belarus over the last month showed that there is a fairly strong protest potential in our society and that the issue of independence is essential for Belarusians,” said MFF Chairman Yuri Hubarevich.

The fact that the unauthorized events gathered hundreds and even more than a thousand people despite police reports, arrests, and detentions of the most active participants, he says, shows that “people are willing to take the risk and to protest in spite of all the repressive measures”.

“When some specific documents on the in-depth integration appear, there will be ten times more people,” he concluded.

Dabratvor: The protests show that the future of Belarus will be independent and European

“More people than I expected took to the streets on December 20. On the same two days, the pro-Russian activists have shown they are good for nothing, with 5 people coming on the first day and only 1 National Socialist coming on the second day. The loneliness of the supporter of integration in the square was the most revealing,” said MFF Minsk Region Council member Illia Dabratvor.

He calls the protests fruitful. “The rallies have shown that there are a lot of opponents of integration, including many young people. The future of Belarus will surely be European and independent,” concluded Dabratvor.

Karbanovich: At these rallies, I met like-minded people and supporters of the democratic development of Belarus

“My impressions of the rallies in support of independence of our country are mainly positive — I’m glad to have had an opportunity to meet like-minded people, friends, and supporters of a decent, civilized, and democratic path of development of Belarus,” says MFF member Siarhey Karbanovich.

According to him, some leaders propose revising the format of rallies by adding certain more attractive and creative forms, because traditional rallies and marches have allegedly become obsolete and don’t gather a sufficiently representative number of participants.

“Flash mobs, performances, and other creative forms of public expression of will can surely be a wonderful way to enrich the traditional range of events arranged by the citizens who are not indifferent to the fate of the country. I personally will be glad if our people handle our common cause creatively and kindly. Traditional rallies and marches are good anyway, but all sorts of ‘chains of independence’, youth festivals, nonviolent resistance ‘park walks’, open-air pickets, and other ‘art provocations’ by DJs of the Awakening will add creativity, positivity, joy, and attractiveness to our joint movement towards a better, inspiring, and worthy future,” said the MFF activist.

Ryzhychenka: The more numerous we are, the louder we would speak in support of independence

“I participated in two of the four rallies in support of the independence of Belarus. I believe that participation in such rallies is essential to express both popular opinions and the will of individuals,” said MFF member from Navapolatsk Zmitser Ryzhychenka.

He believes that what is happening now in secret will have consequences in the near future for both the whole country and each citizen.

“Everyone will soon feel directly — though some less than others — the effect of the process of the regime’s treachery, sale, and surrender of our homeland. Our Belarus,” said the MFF member.

According to him, it is not only the resources, wealth, property and lands accumulated over the years which are being sold. “They are selling us, the people of Belarus. They are selling us like a flock to another shepherd, like weak-willed slaves, like goods. Therefore, I believe all possible and available means of peaceful protest against this sale should, undoubtedly, be used,” said Ryzhychenka.

Everyone who calls and feels themselves Belarusian and who cares about or country should join this process, said the MFF activist. “The more numerous we are, the louder we would speak about this. The more numerous we are, the more we would be listened to. Who if not us and when if not now?” asked the activist. “Stop tolerating this and being afraid! The future is being decided right here right now!”

Zmitser Ryzhychenka came to the rallies with his mouth shut with adhesive tape. “This symbolized the sufferance of the majority of Belarus’s population. They seem to support us and share our ideas, but they are afraid to talk about it openly. They are only able to nod, speak at home, whisper, and wait for someone else to say and do everything instead of them,” he explained his performance.

Filipava: We need to overcome the fear and indifference

“We must take to the streets in support of Belarus’s independence. If we look at other countries, we can see that when something more or less important happens there people take to the streets immediately. Their government reacts peacefully to this. However, this has not always been like this — they had their share of fear, risk, and persecution. They have passed through this, and now we need to overcome our fear and indifference. After all, silence means consent with the things the regime is doing,” says MFF activist Nina Filipava.

She assessed the rallies positively, as a whole. “I liked the ‘human chain’ and marches through the city with flags and posters,” said the activist.

According to Filipava, it is a little sad that few people took to the streets. “I believe the task of the opposition and conscious citizens is to convince people that they need to take part in peaceful protests, and to think about ways to arrange the rallies in such a way as to attract people and please them,” she concluded.

Anikeyeu: My family and I want to live in an independent Belarus

“When I was on my way to Minsk to take part in the ‘human chain’ on December 7, I had different thoughts in my head and thought that no one will take to the streets. But I was wrong. When I reached the Main Post Office, I saw my friends. There were more of them than in my Facebook newsfeed. My mood lifted immediately,” said MFF activist from Homel Baris Anikeyeu.

He thinks the first rally for independence was very good. “There were some stoolpigeons, but that’s no big deal. But I saw with my own eyes how many new people came — and most importantly, youth. It was just great,” said the activist.

Anikeyeu stresses that he doesn’t calls on anyone to take part in the rallies, but says that his family and he want to live in an independent Belarus. “When did Belarus become independent? In 1991. And what year was the president of Belarus elected in? In 1994. Then, what right has he got to trade in our independence? Secondly, there’s a lot of talk that Russia feeds us and helps us... I’ve got only one question: Show me, please, the place where I can get this ‘food’? I’ll go there. Where is this place? And who gets the aid?” asked Anikeyeu.

The activist says it is important to participate in the protests for the independence of Belarus, and that those who are afraid should place pro-independence posters on their windows, flag ribbons on their backpacks, and use national symbols.

“If such protest rallies are arranged in every city of the country, the authorities would start to think a little bit. If you just sit on your couch and stare at your laptop, nothing will change,” he believes.

The MFF member thanked the participants and organizers of the rallies, and reminded about the danger of any alliances with Russia.

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