Voices: Citizens of Belarus are ready for change

Voices: Citizens of Belarus are ready for change
Source: Sergei Grits, The Associated Press

If we start at the beginning, not just the election process, but the preelection process, it was rigged in favor of the current president, Alexander Lukashenko. From the very beginning, there were arrests of potential candidates. Some votes for the potential candidates were not accepted. This ultimately led to a significant decrease in the total number of candidates running in the election compared to those who’d initially announced.

That was only the start of the anger, betrayal and offense at the illegal acts that took place during the election.

During the election itself, two of the candidates were arrested for alleged financial or political crimes and could not participate in the elections. Other candidates were deemed unqualified to run, despite meeting the necessary criteria.

I, my friends and my family participated in the protests from the beginning. We started on the first day that the demonstrations began and we have participated in every protest since. Within the country, there is a slogan, “Every day.” Every day, people are trying to do something. They go to protests, they attend strikes, they help to inform other people.

Many people have been impacted

We had three to four days of pure violence after the elections. We had people that came into the streets to protest peacefully. However, those protesters faced an aggressive military presence. Roughly 50 people have recently disappeared. Lots of people were also in prison for several days.

Significantly, those people put into the jail were not treated humanely. Many were beaten and not fed enough. I never thought that this would happen in Belarus, a European country.

I think lots of people have this as their personal story. I was mostly traveling by car during the protest. And there were even some attempts on our vehicle. The police were throwing stones into our vehicle and they were trying to take people away.

Two of my friends also went to prison. So there were those who didn’t manage to escape. Unfortunately, one of my friends had to go to the hospital for an operation after being shot. A couple of my friends have their own stories of escaping or running, helping people and so on.

Support for the opposition candidate

I do support the opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. I believe that all of the people that I know supported Tikhanovskaya also. You see, I wanted to vote for her to have regular elections – for us all, Tikhanovskaya is not a politician, she is a symbol of change.

Additionally, I hope other countries do not continue to “work” with Tikhanovskaya – I hope there is further disruption of economic procedures.

Personally, while I support the sanctions that the European Union has already imposed on Belarus, I think they could have been stricter.

Citizens of Belarus are ready for change

The character of Belarus is not very aggressive. Our landscape is pretty plain and in our nation you won’t see mountains or deep oceans, etc. I think those traits impact the country’s tempo, which might explain why we have been working for change peacefully.

We are now seeing the process of people with military, government and teaching jobs quitting to find new work – trying to get out of the governmental system.

Everybody, at some level, is doing something to see the change in Belarus. We want to see peace and progress.

It’s important to understand that Lukashenko does not have the support he’s claimed and there was blatant falsification in the last election cycle. Lukashenko also allows for violence and shows personal disrespect to many classes of people. Simply put, people don’t want him to be president.

This Voices story was by Ksenia Prudnikova.

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