Tatsyana Tsishkevich: “Regime is just making our determination and solidarity stronger”

One of the defendants of “the process over the 14” who are to stand trial today in the court of Tsentralny district of Minsk, is an activist of the civil campaign of the “European Belarus” Tatsyana Tsishkevich.

Tatsyana studied in the Belarusian University of physical culture, sports games faculty. She majored in horseracing, but she was expelled for activism. She joined the democratic movement in 2007. Riot policemen have beaten up the activist several times during street rallies. Today Tatsyana answers questions of web-source ucpb.org.

– Why have you chosen that occupation? Do you like horses? What does work with horses give you? What story from your contacts with horses you remember most and want to tell your friends?

– Horseracing develops courage, resolution, single-mindedness and stamina. For me horse is not an animal, it’s a friend. A horse has its character, temperament, as any human has. Contacts with such a friend give positive energy, joy, happiness, pride, understanding, adrenaline… I can continue that for long.

There are very many interesting and funny incidents. I can narrate you for a long time how wonderful it is to ride a horse chasing each other, to swim on horseback in summer, to go on a trip on horseback. The best thing is to try it. There were some problems too. Once a horse stamped on my foot. So I had to wear plaster case for a few weeks. But there is risk in any kind of sport.

– Does riding on horseback symbolize freedom to you? What is freedom for you?

– Freedom includes the things I named earlier. It includes emotions I get from my sport. But it is the whole my life as well: friends, participation in the campaign “Jeans for Freedom”, the understanding that I can draw nearer the European future of my country. As freedom is when you do not depend on external circumstances, and on the contrary, when you can influence them.

– After rallies in which you participated you was hospitalized, and served administrative arrests. Your friends should have asked you many times: “Why do you go to protest rallies which do not change anything and which outcome is clear beforehand?”

– By far not every rally finished in being taken to a hospital or arrested. But even when such things do happen – what can we do? We cannot lay down our arms!

Such questions as “Why do you take part in protest rallies?” are not posed by my friends to me, as they understand that only street rallies can bring freedom and changes. After participation in a few rallies a person gets more confident, decisive and courageous. One understands that one should fight for justice and sometimes sacrifice some things. The most important thing is that a person understands that he or she is not alone, that he or she won’t be left in a difficult situation. And solidarity is very important in our struggle; we cannot gain victory without solidarity.

– Why have you been expelled from the Physical Training University? What were the real reasons, what formal pretext was found by the administration of the university? Did your group-mates try to defend you? Was you ‘an odd bird’ among them?

– I was expelled from the Belarusian State University of Physical training on January 21 this year. The first wording of the expulsion was: Untimely payment”. Then they change their mind. It turned out that the administration of the university had forgotten to read my contract with the university on study-for-fee form of education. It was breached when they expelled me. In February a commission was created. They had a consultation, and decided that the explanation of the expulsion should be changed. Now I am expelled because of internal rules violation, for “administrative violations intended against public order and morality”.

When I was expelled, while I was in the detention center in Akrestsin Street, my group-mates were not told anything about that. Administration was running around the university with worried faces pretending they were looking for me, asking everybody where I had disappeared, though half of students were missing classes and nobody was worried by that.

I do not feel myself an odd bird anywhere, at least, for a long time.

– How have you joined the democratic movement? Was it love for Belarus, a wish to find like-minded persons, an attempt to express yourself and find self-actualization? Were there other motives? How did your parents take that?

– I joined the democratic movement when I met interesting, cheerful and positive people. They were activists of “Jean for Freedom!” They helped me to understand and realize the entire situation our country has found itself in. I have never been a supporter of the government certainly, but I have never thought that such a lawlessness, chaos and arbitrary decisions are taking place in our country.

To put it mildly, my parents do not support my views. They have preserved Soviet mentality. It is very difficult without parents’ support, especially during detentions, arrests, trials and expulsion.

I have invited my mother to the trial on April 16, and the answer was: “Nonsense! I am not going to drag about to courts because of a child!” As it usually is…