According to opposition figure Marya Kalesnikava, those in power have tried to get her to beg for mercy, but she considers herself innocent and a “trial” a game.
Moscow / Helsinki
Belarus the following have been able to learn a new name again in recent days as a sprinter who participated in the Tokyo Olympics Krystsina Tsimanouskaja decided to seek asylum after intimidation.
Tsimanouskaja ran into trouble after opposing the orders of the sports bosses. There is no opposition figure he is, although many athletes rose as early as last fall to oppose the president Alexander Lukashenko brutal extracts in the repression of protests.
“He has signed a petition for persecution of political victims, but so have hundreds of others,” a Belarusian political scientist Artjom Šraibman says in a phone interview. However, the threat experienced by the athlete is not underestimated by the researcher.
“A prison sentence would have been possible if he had been forced to return to Minsk. Or at least his sports career could have been destroyed. Perhaps he was seen as a contender, who publicly disgraced sports leaders. If he had continued to criticize Belarus, he might have been seen as an opposition figure. “
Belarus the brutal takeovers of those in power against all those who have disputed have ensured that the fresh names of those who oppose power come to the public at a steady pace.
He is an opposition figure Raman Pratasevich, arrested by Belarus in May after forcing a Ryanair plane down. A little earlier activist Vitold Ašurak had died in unclear circumstances in prison. Belarusians who fled to Ukraine helped Vital Shishou in turn, was found dead on Tuesday in Kiev. Ukrainian police are investigating the case as a murder.
After the fraudulent presidential election in August last year and the protests that followed, thousands of people have been arrested by the authorities. Last month, the authorities struck the remaining NGOs and independent media. According to the human rights organization Viasna, there are already more than 600 political prisoners in the country.
Old the names have still not disappeared. On Wednesday in Minsk, the court is due to begin dealing with one of the best-known symbols of the opposition movement, namely Marya Kalesnikava charges against him.
The authorities are accusing Kalesnikava of practically attempting a coup attempt, threatened with a 12-year sentence. At the same time, he has been charged with endangering and damaging national security.
The trial is held behind closed doors and no one is awaiting acquittal. Belarus does not have an independent judiciary. Kalesnikava himself knows this. His boss, run for last year’s presidential election Viktar Babaryka received a 14-year conviction for corruption last month.
“The game called the Trial is about to begin. This is a new genre where I am supposed to make myself believe that I belong to ‘people without a future’, ”Kalesnikava wrote in an interview published by the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag over the weekend.
Kalesnikava is a long-time German-born musician and actor who returned to Minsk to lead the OK16 Cultural Center in the trendy October area.
The center was funded by banker Babaryka. When Babaryka ran for office, Kalesnikava became the coordinator of her campaign.
The election was an exceptional situation. Belarus already had dissatisfaction with the authoritarian Lukashenko, but the state’s failure to fight and treat the coronavirus forced people to help each other in a new way. It strengthened a weak civil society, made people consider themselves citizens, and also increased interest in politics.
Read more: Minsk’s hot summer. Belarus will hold presidential elections in early August in a new context, with previously passive people interested in politics and an authoritarian president with significant candidates.
Exceptional attention was paid to the precedent elections, especially when, in addition to Babaryka, another popular figure, a blogger, ran for office. Sjarhei Tsihanouski as well as a respected technocrat Valery Tsapkala.
Lukashenko in the end, only Tsihanouski’s wife was nominated Svjatlana Tsihanouskajan. The opposition joined the campaigns, with Tsihanouskaya, Kalesnikava and Tsapkala’s wife as leading figures Veranika Tsapkala.
Read more: Opposition chief candidate Svjatlana Tsihanouskaja tells HS that she fears Monday when the results of Sunday’s election will be announced – She has already had to flee the police who have arrived in front of her home
Read more: The election campaign superstar is now touring in support of the strikers, but fears of new police force are growing in Minsk
Read more: Marya Kalesnikava ripped her passport at the border and crawled out the rear window as police tried to drive her out of the country – She became the star of a protest movement in Belarus
Electoral authorities declared Lukashenko the overwhelming winner, which immediately led to protests. Police broke them down with great grasp, but they grew as word of police violence and torture of detainees spread.
Other vacant leadership figures fled the country. The Kalesnikava remained in Belarus and therefore became the hero of the movement. He did not leave, although after a short pause the authorities began a new persecution which has continued until now.
As a complete surprise, it did not come to Kalesnikava. HS interviewed him several times last summer. Already on the eve of the election, he described the situation as dangerous.
“They respond with violence, police and special forces. They have no other means but fear and pampoo, ”he told HS at the time.
Kalesnikavan his reputation only grew when police finally arrested him last September. Authorities tried to force him across the border into Ukraine, but Kalesnikava tore his passport between border stations and walked back to Belarus.
Kalesnikava said in an interview released by Russian television channel Dožd on Tuesdaythat those in power have tried to get him to talk on state television and beg for mercy. He has not agreed because he considers himself innocent.
To Welt am Sonntag, he stated that there is no regret in tearing his passport.
“Freedom doesn’t just drop in your arms,” he wrote.
Opposition opportunities for influence have decreased substantially during the current year due to persecution. Almost all anti-regime activists have been imprisoned or fled the country.
“The opposition can lobby abroad for sanctions and gain international support, but the administration will decide how the situation in Belarus develops,” says researcher Artyom Shraibman, who himself left the country in the early summer.
“There may be a controlled change ahead in a few years or a series of new rulers’ mistakes and miscalculations.”
Šraibman is reluctant to make predictions because, according to him, the situation is completely open and all options are possible.
“There are many possibilities and they include the massacre, the peaceful change and the continuation of the current situation for a couple of years. But we are not in a situation where the future is so predictable that there are, say, three plausible scenarios. ”