Vital Rymasheuski: Belarus is undergoing a spiritual crisis
Co-chairman of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party and a former presidential candidate Vital Rymasheuski, who is being threatened by the authorities to be imprisoned for three years, has commented on the situation in the country and answered the most topical and pressing questions, including the terrorist attack on April 11, the problems of Chernobyl and Astravets, political repression and the difficult economic situation. The politician believes one of the main causes of these hardships to be a spiritual crisis in Belarus, the lack of solidarity and unwillingness to help others.
- Mr. Rymasheuski, please tell us how you feel about the explosion on April 11?
- What happened in Minsk on April 11 - is a crime directed against the Belarusian people. It is against the people because the victims were not a certain political group or some group in power - yet ordinary people of Belarus. I believe that all politicians who still have a shred of conscience, who feel responsible for their activities, must promise that this crime will be investigated and the guilty will be punished. As politicians we may not use this tragedy as an excuse for political PR. In connection with what happened I urge all politicians - both in power and in the opposition – to be responsible and sensitive in their words and deeds. Even one person being killed makes a terrible, irreparable tragedy, and here thirteen people were killed, dozens were maimed, and hundreds were injured. So I think that any attempt to use what happened for one’s own political purposes is simply indecent. This concerns the authorities in the first place but also the opposition.
- What could be the political consequences of this explosion?
- The political consequences have partly begun already. After the terrorist attack the division in the Belarusian society has deepened. And the fact that the authorities tried to use this incident as a reason to accuse the opposition already constitutes very bad consequences, because it increases the hostility in the Belarusian society and does not contribute in any way to improvement of the situation inside the country. If the authorities continue to accuse the opposition and use the attack as an alleged reason for political repression, I am convinced that the majority in the Belarusian society and the international community will associate the explosion with the Belarusian authorities, as it will be used as an excuse to discredit and eliminate political opponents. However, I believe that this tragedy may turn into a way towards repentance, towards reconsidering one’s behavior, a step towards consolidation, when the authorities and the opposition would be able to get closer to civil peace in Belarus. I realize how unrealistic this scenario is, yet I think it is possible. Politics may be perceived as a game and power - as means to satisfy one’s interests and ambitions but when we face the tragedy of human life, it should awake our conscience. It should force all politicians, who have a shred of human conscience, to reconsider their behavior, to repentance. I believe that everyone, no matter how bad he is, is capable of repentance.
- What is your attitude towards the ban of the “Chernobyl march”, which was supposed to take place on April 26, by the Belarusian authorities?
- I have a negative attitude towards the ban of the march, since the reason for the ban is far-fetched. As you know, the refusal concerned the gathering near the Academy of Sciences. This site was said to be inappropriate because it is situated less than 200 meters from the metro. Yet every year the procession began at the Academy of Sciences. Previously, including the last year, when I was among the organizers and the applicants for the "Chernobyl march”, nothing like that was mentioned. It is very unfortunate that the “Chernobyl march" was not allowed this year. However, considering the current situation and the tension that has developed since April 11, one should not go for confrontation. Therefore, the organizers of the "Chernobyl march" do not call for gathering at the Academy of Sciences - only for taking part in the demonstration. We should commemorate the date of this tragedy because its consequences, unfortunately, have not been eliminated and continue to kill people. We must take real steps to change the situation. The main slogan of this year "Chernobyl march" will be "Protect the Belarusians from radiation". Each time, referring to the Chernobyl problem, we must be guided by precisely this purpose and this task. We must remember that the "Chernobyl march" is not a political event in the first place. Therefore, banning the march does not mean that this anniversary is not going to be commemorated. We plan a demonstration, a conference, a movie show and a trip to the Chernobyl zone. For the first time organizations such as Ecodom are going to join the political and public organizations, which have traditionally facilitated the Chernobyl activities. And this is a very good sign that we are moving towards achieving the goals that we set before the "Chernobyl march" in 2010. Last year it was the BCD who took the responsibility for conducting the "Chernobyl march". As organizers we intended to return the Chernobyl meaning to the march and all activities related to it, so that our actions would somehow contribute to protecting the Belarusians from the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. Hence, when new organizations join us, it means that the strategy showed to be fruitful. In fact, the organizing committee has now brought together all the initiatives that are in some way related to the problem of Chernobyl.
- What do you think about the plans to build the Belarusian nuclear power plant in Astravets?
- The BCD organizing committee has adopted a resolution concerning the construction of a nuclear power plant in Astravets. It says that construction of a nuclear power plant in today's circumstances has not been properly prepared. Therefore the beginning of the construction would be a very imprudent and dangerous step.
-What can you say about the trials of the protesters detained on December 19?
- I want to say that December 19 was probably the apogee of the struggle for Belarus and for democracy, for the independence of the healthy forces in the Belarusian society, which have grown in the previous decades. The big number of people who gathered on December 19 to express their protest against the undemocratic elections confirms that these forces grow and accumulate in the society, despite the difficulties and all kinds of obstacles. One may only express one’s respect and honor to all those brave, honest and caring people who came out on December 19 to protest. What happened in the end can be characterized as a tragic event for the Belarusian society, because the arrests, the dispersal of the demonstration and maybe not entirely responsible actions of the candidates and organizers have contributed, of course, to the big blow on the Belarusian independent democratic movement. The result of these developments is the apparent division of the Belarusian society into two parts and an increase of hostility between the representatives of the authorities and the independent democratic forces. And it is, of course, a very dangerous thing. The deepening of the division may lead to fatal events in the Belarusian society - to more repression and elimination of the Belarusian opposition, which is independent from the authorities. But I am convinced that we will survive this test. The Belarusian people have spiritual powers to protect both independence and democracy. For me personally, the most serious thing is that many people have already been convicted and received rather large terms of imprisonment. Therefore, I do not take joy in the softening of my articles from 293 to 342. I feel personal responsibility and personal pain for the people who have already been punished. I do not feel free and I will not calm down until at least one man convicted after December 19 will continue to be in prison. I will do everything possible so that these people would be released. I am convinced that solidarity, honesty, justice and truth will be heard and they will win.
- Please comment on the economic situation in the country.
- The Belarusian economic system is not competitive in today’s world, no matter what the authorities say. It is the authorities who are responsible for not introducing the reforms decades ago and for the economic crisis. If the Belarusian authorities will not understand their mistakes, if they will not understand the urgent need for the reforms, including political ones (because without them effective economic reforms are not possible) it could lead to disastrous consequences in the Belarusian economy, and, possibly, to the loss of independence. Political independence in today's world is very closely linked with economic power and economic independence. Today's crisis is a logical consequence of the policy, which has been held in Belarus in the past decades. The Belarusians need to protect each other; one must understand that if we do not fight when the issue is raised in the house of another person, if we do not start to fight for another person, then these problems will inevitably come into our house. And until the time when these simple truths would be understood by us, the Belarusians will not be alright. Today in Belarus we face not only economic and political crises, but also a spiritual one. We need to abandon those vices that exist in the Belarusian mentality. It is necessary to get rid of the state of affairs reflected by the saying "none of my business". We should learn that fear and lack of solidarity are our national vices. In this crisis, we must draw correct conclusions, go towards each other and rethink their behavior. This applies to all without exception: the Belarusian authorities, the Belarusian opposition and ordinary people. It is time to take responsibility and make the right choice. Belarusian Christian Democracy is a Christian-democratic choice for Belarus and the Belarusian people. I believe that it is impossible to establish a strong socio-political system without faith, without God and Christianity. Christianity became the basis of the whole European civilization. It also gives each person strength, source of inspiration and moral and ethical reference point, without which society cannot exist.
- What would you wish the Belarusians in connection with the coming of Easter?
-I congratulate all the Belarusians on the main holiday for any state and any person. Whoever we are, no matter what post we hold, believers or atheists, the event that is celebrated at Easter is the main thing for all of us, for the existence of every nation and every people. Jesus Christ came to die for us and walk the path next to each of us, to do it better than us, to give us an opportunity for a change and salvation, and an opportunity to have a life. I urge all the Belarusians to have hope in Him and to open their hearts to Jesus Christ. I also wish all faith, hope and love and never to forget that what starts our life and our struggle is the coming into this world, the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We must remember that our strengths, efforts and achievements mean nothing without Him.