«We will break stereotypes». Young people of Belarusian opposition
The parliamentary elections that were recently held, had left very dull overall impression. The results are predictable, the actions of the authorities are expected, active and vivid manifestations of the opposition are occasional and insignificant. But there is a demand of new people, new ideas, new leaders, changes in the country and in the society itself. Such a request during the election campaign fully felt the representatives of the «Molodezhny Block» - Alana Gebremariam, Stanislav Shashok, Alexey Lazarev, Eugeny Karaulov, Mikhail Vorontsov, Vladislav Sysa, Nikita Krasnokutsky - who were nominated for the candidates from the Belarusian Social Democratic Hramada. The leader of the party Sergey Cherechen promises that soon to this campaign of hazardous and purposeful young people will join businessmen with political ambitions and desire to see Belarus as a developed democratic country. Does our country expect the emergence of powerful political force on the eve of the upcoming presidential election?
Parliamentary campaign became a trial by fire for businessman Sergey Cherechen, who headed BSDH a year ago. How does the young politician evaluate the first electoral campaign of the party? Does he ready to participate in the presidential race? And why does the Belarusian opposition need their own Timati? «BelGazeta» discussed that with the successor of Stanislav Shushkevich.
«The election fraud has happened»
- Initially, we considered the possibility of participation in the parliamentary campaign of 70 people from the party. However, two weeks before the start, the majority of people who were connected with business, made a decision to support us next time. Businessmen were afraid of their own business: they say that high incomes indicated in the declaration, can become the reason of detailed attention from the tax authorities, despite the fact that all the documents are in order. Taking into consideration certain pressure from the security forces, potential candidates still decided to support us later. However, even with regard to all the problems and difficulties, it is already evident that for the next parliamentary campaign we are able to nominate for 110 candidates, the significant part of which will be able to win in fair and democratic elections.
- However on the way to the following parliamentary campaign, the country is expected of the Presidential elections of 2020
- Definitely we will participate in the Presidential campaign, however the format of our participation is not determined yet: the Central Council and the BSDH congress will do that. Whether we will support the candidate from the side, enter into coalition with the other opposition forces or support our candidate - all this will be solved in the next two months.
- From what factors depends the final decision on the Presidential elections?
- From many factors. The administrative resource (I’m not speaking about the vertical of power) works actively. All our actions together with Stanislav Shushkevich have one goal – is to find the level of support and respect, both in Belarusian society and in the international community. If we can see that we are appreciated, we will move on.
- Do you think that the administrative resource and the vertical of power are different phenomenas?
- Yes. The administrative resource may not depend on the vertical of power: not all processes that take place within the country have one goal, not always they coincide with the course of the Presidential administration. And peculiar international ombudsmen play an important role in our internal political processes.
- Let’s get back to the parliamentary campaign... Nomination of candidates, registration, agitation, early voting, elections 17 November - did you have a complete picture or are there only fragments?
- Obviously, the assignment to take away all the opposition politicians has untied the hands of government officials, who made decisions. Speaking about the agitation and the process of the parliamentary race itself, we did not have any special questions. Our applicants did what they considered necessary in order to increase their recognition and popularization of the party. There were certain far-fetched remarks, but they did not lead to the removal of our candidates at this stage. I can say that the process itself, at least in relation to our party, was quite loyal. But many other organizations were extinguished, I saw it clearly.
- How do you appreciate the voting?
- (Laughs) The best assessment is a response from the society: our candidates start being recognized. Recognition, popularity, promotion of the BSDH brand – is the general concept that has gone into the nation.
And the observers from the European Union, the OSCE, the campaign «Pravo vybora», including the representatives of our party, said everything about the voting. We have a turnout of 33-34% in the country, taking into account the fact that people were forced to the polling stations, and there were no counting of votes. As Alexander Grigoryevich initially said, there will be a bacchanalia - it happened. No logics, no rules, neither sober, nor common sense were taken into account - there was just a falsification of the elections.
- On past elections, the BSDH worked in tandem with the «Molodezhny Block». How did the guys show themselves?
- Well done guys, they showed that they want to protect their interests on the political field. The authorities saw an alternative to the old opposition, which is not quite interesting to the society today: a new generation grows, which wants something else. The «Molodezhny Block» showed on the elections that it can provide something new, the alternative that would be interesting, including my generation, my contemporaries. In Soviet times, people could work for an idea, even not very popular, but now people different. The voters ask: well, you go into deputies, you may or may not get a deputy seat. But so what of it? We need to go as one united front, and in case of victory we will implement projects that are interesting to people.
«It is impossible to control actions all over the country»
- The youth, the generation that has grown up under the presidency of Lukashenko, are often called laid-back persons. Do you agree?
- If in our young years we rode a bike and went fishing, chased each other in the yards and we had fun, then nowadays young people are different: they move less, they are more isolated, they have much less social practice. We can not call them laid-back persons: they have their own interests, but they are narrowly focused, it is difficult for them to organize themselves. Today it is more difficult to get the guys together, but it is possible. We are not saying that all youth must be put under our bayonets. There are about 25-30% of active youth, which we must attract into our ranks and work with them. Not the majority achieve changes in any country of the world, but the active minority. Our task – is to unite people who are already ready to act, and then attract others to their ranks. On the opposition actions review of the past elections, I saw: nothing has changed. It is clear that they dipped us in the mud, they didn’t hear us, they showed us our place. We can say that we were offended, we can say that someday we will unite - but there is no specifics. I suggested: that on the next parliamentary campaign, in second to last day, each of the 12 represented organizations should bring into masses at least 5 thousand people in different parts of the country, not radical events, but entertaining events in support of their candidates (to listen to good music, to eat kebab, to wave the flags). People will come to the permitted events and will support them. It is necessary at least to gather about 60 thousand people in different parts of Minsk who will simply say: we are here, we support these people. And the power wouldn’t go away, would listen to them. For the next 4 years before the following parliamentary campaign, it is really possible to enlist the support of 5 thousand people for each organization. Then we will break stereotypes.
- Do you suggest to the opposition to adopt the experience of Timati?
- At least! Why does he come from Moscow with a burger and gather crowds of people? They come to see the media person. Why are there no such figures among the opposition? Why the opposition can’t do what Russian stars can easily do? I am not saying that a politician should be a star, but people should support him – only in that case the authorities will also reckon with him. - But why did Belarusians ignore that campaign?
- During 25 years, at first, people had just suspected that they were deceived, supposed falsification. But today about 80% of population are simply sure that there are no elections and there is no sense in going to polling stations - they will not hear their voice and still will draw the necessary numbers.
- The inner observation named the parliamentary campaign «the most cruel» of all. There was no violence…
- I don’t know, I don’t know: our candidate Stas Shashka and his authorised person were very tightly twisted on the day of elections: the first was released, and the second was blamed in hooliganism (article 17.1 of Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation).
- Why did authorities need a cruel scenario?
- All the previous elections were boycotted by the opposition forces, so all campaigns took place in light mode: there were no resistance, no protests, no attempts to organize the population. The ideal format for power, when there is no one against, just noone does anything. But by this way it was impossible to show why there are no elections. The current elections showed that the opposition made the right decision and through its actions showed the fraud of the elections.
- Is this circumstance cause an extremely impressive reaction of Lukashenko?
- The reaction appeared when it was possible to understand that the situation is under control. And it actually went out of control, because 2-3 actions can be controlled, but when actions are held all over the country, they can’t be controlled.
- So, the cruel scenario of the parliamentary campaign will move into an even more cruel variant in 2020?
- The opposition politicians will get the right to collect signatures for their nomination in presidential candidates, but there is a large fear that nobody gets the status of candidates. But it’s impossible to organize anything without credentials.
«We have created a strong team»
- You do think that the opposition is matured for nomination of one candidate, don’t you?
- Yesterday I attended one meeting where were represented almost all the opposition structures - there is no unity. I will say more: today I don’t see a single candidate, in any case, the one whom I would support. If there was a candidate who had support in society, then this issue could be considered. But there is no such candidate yet. - What kind of forces configuration have been developed inside the opposition camp?
-In my opinion, there are center-right parties and all the other. But center-right parties are also doing not well. For sure about two or three applicants will only appear from them. - Do you want to try Presidential happiness by yourself?
- I thought about that, but today I can’t answer, it is not time for thinking yet.
- But you are a businessman who put such a burden as BSDH. Now, after some time, you regret, aren’t you?
- Of course, it is possible to regret, often people do that. But when I made the decision, when I took the responsibility for the party, I was aware of where I’m getting involved. And the decision was made consciously. So everything is fine. The political processes in the country are quite complicated, quite risky, but interesting. - Someone goes uphill to get a portion of an adrenaline, but did you prefer politics?
- Someone rides a bike without a helm, someone jumps with a parachute or climbs a mountain without without any safety equipment...But for me, yes, the source of adrenaline is politics.
- Until now, the general public is not aware of the conditions under which you accepted the party from Stanislav Shushkevich. Maybe it’s time to reveal the cards?
- I’ve told this story everyone. We got acquainted with Stanislav Stanislavovich with the help of mutual friends, I took the initiative. We agreed on common comprehension of the processes. Stanislav Stanislavovich said: if you want, try it, although it will require efforts, money and time. He warned me up: if you screw up, if it doesn’t work out, then we will quickly return the situation to normal. Therefore, I try to be extremely correct and do what I originally agreed on. There are no problems yet: we hold a lot of meetings together, Stanislav Stanislavovich supports me. And this just indicates that we have found mutual understanding, and not the fact that I have bought something from someone.
- There was a dual power in the party: you took upon yourself the burden of daily leadership in the party, Stanislav Shushkevich – is the face of the party? The situation is different. I directly perform all the functions of the chairman of the organization, and Stanislav Stanislavovich helps me. He is a good mentor, I learn a lot from him. I make many decisions on my own, we discuss many issues in the Central Council, but the main vector of development comes from me initially. Naturally, we are preparing collectively for our important political events – we have formed a strong team that can handle different tasks.
Interviewed by Yura DUBINA