The representative of Victor Babaryka’s team, Maxim Bogretsov, was broadcasting live. We prepared a summary.
At the beginning of the broadcast, Maxim condoled with Roman Bondarenko’s family, and also remembered the other victims of violence of the authorities – Alexander Taraikovsky, the first victim, Alexander Wihor, Gennady Šutov, Nikita Krivtsov, Konstantin Šišmakov and Alexander Budnitsky.
About the video and the headquarters tone
I’m making a video from Belarus. We’re changing studios because right now we don’t have a permanent headquarters building. Last week, our regular headquarters building was lost to us, with Yuri Voskresensky moving in. I think it was some kind of symbolism to him. I hope that even though our walls have no bricks, the optimism and spirit of Victor Dmitrievich’s headquarters, in which Viktor Dmitrievich, Maria and Maxim acted, can be maintained.
About evidence of violence against civilians
Project 23-34.net and other platforms are gathering information for transmission to international centers, for the purpose of conducting a fair investigation, fair trial ,when it will become possible. I know a lot of people who have worked or are working in law enforcement and would like to join the investigation when they can. So it’s very important to collect this information.
Hope that people who commit crimes will eventually learn the one simple fact that these things will not be forgotten. They’ll have to answer for their actions.
About going out and creative ideas for peaceful protest.
Increased violence has distracted us from other agendas, such as digital solidarity or an alternative voting system. Simply because even gathering information about what is happening now takes a tremendous amount of time and resources.
Today, much has been done in Belarus, in order to put down freedom of expression in the country. Let’s not forget that Viktor Dmitrievich Babaryka went to prison before the mass actions. He didn’t get there because he was wearing a white, red and white flag.
The law «On mass events» was admitted in 1997 in contradiction with a variety of international laws and conventions that were signed by the Republic of Belarus. It was admitted to put down any freedom of speech, freedom of expression.
Attempts to publicly organize rallies and gatherings during the elections have met a great deal of counterbalance, not much was been possible. The important thing is, that these days, everyone takes what they do for themselves.
We’re not asking everyone to go out. Lots of people want to breathe fresh air every day. It’s not illegal yet. But looking at what happens on Sundays, it looks like we’re about to be banned from breathing on weekends. Just in case there’s a mass gathering.
Other ways of expressing ourselves are the things we care about every day. Any ideas on this subject are welcome. If there’s any creative idea of how you can express your disagreement in a way that doesn’t involve a police baton, it’s really cool. Share them with us.
My dream is to work effectively to end the crisis and not put myself or anyone else in danger. On the other hand, judging by the rhetoric of Alexander Grigorievich and the representatives of various authorities, especially the security forces, they are very much concerned on the moment that people are still on the streets. They seem to have forgotten the root that causes people to go to the streets, and this has become their most important objective – to remove everyone from the streets. I’d like to remind you that that’s not the reason. People on the streets are not a trouble spot. The people on the streets are a symptom of the violence being used, the voices being stolen, the people having no legitimate authority. Fighting this is useless, it’s just a symptom.
About peaceful Belarusians and new leaders
My colleagues and I often say that whatever happens in our country, we are all citizens of the same country, citizens of Belarus. There is no situation that occurs in conflicts between countries, when there are clearly defined enemies, because they are different, they have a different religion, they are citizens of another state. Unfortunately, we have a fragmented society within one country. Government officials are not all bad, but it seems that many of them obey the orders and ignore the real information. People often say on the streets: «Look out the window, not the TV». Because if you watch the TV, you see one reality, if you look out the window, you see a whole lot different kind of reality.
We all have loved ones, friends, relatives. These are usually older people, those who use the Internet less, who still genuinely believe in some strange things. They are in the minority. But we have a lot in common. We are all Belarusians, we all live in the same country, we are all the same people. There are many other topics. For example, power attempts to monopolize the desire for peace and composure. It’s really nothing, we all know that Belarusians are like that.
We all want to focus on the creative agenda, we all love peace, we all love composure, we are all heirs to our grandparents who survived the war. In my case, they’re parents who survived the war as children. We all want peace.
We all don’t like corruption. Most civil servants, especially in the security services, went for this work because they don’t like corruption. I’ve worked my whole life to build a career in an environment where corruption is simply unnecessary. These are the things that unite us. At the same time, there are typical misconceptions to continue working with.
Each of us has acquaintances, relatives, classmates, friends, neighbors who still think that without a man who has ruled for 26 years as a king, everything in the state will fall apart. They have that delusion. They say: «Look, there are no other leaders, he is the only one». I would like to respond: «I think there’s a reason that there’s no partners and no other leaders for 26 years. That’s probably how the state system works».
I am absolutely convinced that as soon as this pressure and this violence changes, leaders will emerge. They will appear no worse than the man who has ruled this state for 26 years.
Another delusion: «How will people be supported in state enterprises, the poorest part of the population?». Many of us work in the non-state sector and make good money. Ironically, the people who have received the least from this power, who have failed to build a living, often support it because they fear losing even the pittance that they make today.
Believe me, the professionals, the economists, the people who know how to transform businesses, have a plan on how to reform socially. So that the people who work in state enterprises, in the agricultural sector and receive very little money are not harmed.
There’s a plan, but unfortunately, today there is a wrong agenda on the street, it’s not the agenda we can discuss.
There is another typical argument: I’m often told that you’re the ones who are killing the economy with your marches, and it’s your fault that our standard of living is deteriorating. It is not true! Stealing elections, using violence, dialogue refusal all the time and putting responsibility up to people who just don’t agree! There are those who say: Sorry, we’re not ready to work in an indentured economy. We are not serfs, we are not slaves, we are not going to continue to work this way». Such misconceptions are not unique to some members of the security forces, they are widespread in public organizations, because there is a special person who is responsible for the ideology, is responsible for the method of selection. It’s important to understand that this is a job for all of us. We all have people who know each other, who have relatives, who live in a small town or village, who need to be helped with information and explanation of what’s going on. This is our work together, it’s not just the work of some headquarters.
About how to win
If there was a clear, step-by-step plan, we’d be moving on it by now. Right now it’s complicated. We’re trying to find all sorts of ways to move forward. Today, we are still in a phase of pressure, where the authorities are pressuring us in every way possible to silence our opinions, to put them down, to force us to return to our workshops, to our farms, to our computers and simply to silence us. Don’t give an opinion at all. And maybe another 5-10-15 years faithfully serve the king, the only possible leader of Belarus. We can’t do that, it’s not possible, and it’s our job to tell the authorities in every way possible that it’s not going to happen. This is a moment of information intrusion, working with anyone that’s possible. It is very important. Everybody does it their way. Someone who’s comfortable enough to do something. Not all the people working on it are in Belarus. Those who have been pushed out of the country do it their own way. Whoever’s in Belarus is doing it their way.
It’s very important to continue to support each other. Helping those in trouble. To help those who need help here and now. We have no time to look forward to a better future – we need to help now.
These are the things that unite us, the things that we have in common. Of course, I can’t imagine any tough plan. We are very hopeful and doing everything we can to move from the pressure phase to one where we can engage in substantive negotiations with the authorities. For now, for all the signs, the authorities are ready only to imitate the negotiation process.
About cooperation with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Valery Tsepkalo and the Coordination Council
There’s a difference between the HQ, which is why they went to the polls separately. There’s a difference in approach. But all these are nuances compared to what happens on Sunday, compared to the violence, the lawlessness that the illegitimate Belarusian authorities are committing today, are not visible. You can look for the difference between Valery, Sviatlana or Viktor Dmitrievich, but today the whole coalition has one common task: to move away from violence and move into the phase of the political process, move on to the process of preparing new elections. Until this is achieved, we will not see any difference between the headquarters.
There’s a difference in how you achieve your goals. Among other things, let us not forget that some of us are inside Belarus, some of us have been pushed out of Belarus. So, different people are finding different options for themselves to achieve our common goal. It is important that we all advocate a peaceful resolution of our current conflict with the authorities. We are absolutely against violence. And the violence that is being used today is recognized by all international organizations, all partners, and Russia is changing it’s tone today. We support the immediate cessation of violence, the immediate release of the hostages from prison and the transition to a political process. Then we can come back to the point where the distinction between the headquarters and different organizations will again be visible and substantial. This will be a moment that we definitely have to celebrate.
The Coordinating Council was established as a broad coalition of diverse people and entities. What unites us all is that we all want the violence to stop, the people to be freed and we can move on to the issue of new elections and the political process. Different people, different structures just use different tools that they choose to move forward. The Coordinating Council, by its nature, is unlikely to issue any ultimatums. Most of us are in Belarus. We work within the legal framework of Belarus. We’re here with you. We are doing everything we can to move forward towards the emergence of legitimate authority and an end to violence. Other headquarters and structures are actually working in the same direction. In that sense, that is what unites us today.
About the establishment of a party and participation in political processes
This is a difficult question. I can argue with myself, argue for and against the creation of a political movement. We came very close once, we started thinking about it, and it was kind of a false start. But when I talk to different people, they say, guys, what party, what movement?! We get hit every Sunday. What political process are you talking about? They also say that, apart from formal structures, no party or political structure has been registered in Belarus for many years. You guys aren’t gonna register one anyway, you’re not gonna make it.
On the other hand, the whole course of our conversation shows that, of course, everyone hopes that the violence in the streets will stop and that political movement will begin. What we’re working on is that sooner or later, we’re all going to join some kind of political movement. For what? For legitimate power to emerge in Belarus. What is the problem with creating a political movement and a party for me today? The biggest obstacle is that my closest associates are in prison. Victor Dmitrievich, Maria, Max are now in prison.
On the other hand, we may find ourselves in a situation where we can see the efficacy of creating a movement, despite this, to try to influence the authorities in this way and to accelerate their release. This is a moment that, like a litmus test, is a key one to us.
We are willing to do whatever it takes to bring them closer to release or to give us a chance to end the violence. But if we don’t see the efficacy, it’s hard to channel the resources now. Nevertheless, the issue is on the agenda at all times.
Of course, the moment that a political party can potentially legitimize an assembly, the nomination of deputies, and so on – we think about it all the time and think about when the right time is to add it to the agenda.
About the economic plan of Babaryka
We have a lot of socially oriented elements in the plan that would be really cool to voice and start the discussion among the general public. But once we’re on a purely economic agenda, we forget one simple thing – all the economic problems, all the business problems that we have today, they’re not related to any nuances and elements of the economic agenda. They relate solely to the fact that we lack basic security. We don’t have street safety, security of running a business, security of having a bank account, etc. We can go into all the complexities and nuances of economic policies and issues, how to properly reform state-owned enterprises, but until these fundamental issues are resolved, it is useless to go deep into the economic agenda.
The Constitution is the second matter, not the first. Yes, the existing Constitution allowed the regime to take shape the way it was formed. But the regime today does not enforce the laws that are written. It violates them every day in many different ways. So if there are any amendments to the Constitution, but with the same people on the ground who stole the elections, using violence in the streets, I have little idea of how rewriting the constitution will force someone to enforce the law.
About whether Victor Babaryka changed his mind about becoming president
I’m pretty sure he hasn’t changed his mind. Victor Dmitrievich wanted to be president in order to build a new free Belarus. Until that’s done, I’m sure he hasn’t changed his mind. He’s got a lot of good ideas. He has a lot of time, but little information, so he probably thinks a lot about what a new free Belarus might look like and what it’ll look like when he gets out, and together we can start working normally on a positive agenda and on building a free Belarusian State.