Open letter to President of Russia: Don’t wake guerrillas on Belarusians

Belarusian youth leaders Yauhen Afnahel and Zmitser Dashkevich sent an open letter to president of Russian Dmitry Medvedev in connection with carrying out large-scale Rusisan-Belarsuian military exercises in Belarus.

The letter was sent to a personal blog of the Russian president and to Russian and Belarusian mass media. The website published the letter:

Dear Mr Dmitry,

The military exercises Zapad-2009 are being carried out in our country now. More than 6000 Russian soldiers take part in them. It’s the first time in the history of independent Belarus when the country meets such amount of foreign soldiers. The objective of the exercises is training to repel a possible military aggression from the west.

In our view, presence of such amount of Russian soldiers in Belarus is inadmissible and may be a threat to our country independence.

You often say in your speeches that your aim is creating a new Russia. You also warn not to repeat the tragic mistakes of the past. However, we see that Russia’s policy towards our country hasn’t changed for many centuries.

Neither Russian tsars, nor Bolsheviks regarded our country as an independent state and respected its traditions and sovereignty. Your predecessor at the post of president of Russia suggested that Belarus should be joined to Russia.

Unfortunately, we see this policy continues today.

You write in your article Go Russia! about the challenges Russia faces. They are economic backwardness, corruption, alcoholism, low competitiveness of Russian products at the world market. The population of Russia is decreasing year by year. Almost every region has many problems – from non-payments of wages and pensions to national conflicts.

But you prefer to spend huge money on holding senseless, from a military point of view, exercises and supporting the dictatorship in Belarus. We think a threat for our countries is not a mythic western aggression, but the real economic crisis. One shouldn’t waste money on such an even in this situation.

Bringing Russian troops into Belarus on the background of all above mentioned Russia’s domestic problems is a mistake, which repetition can lead to unpredictable consequences.

We, the Belarusians, are tolerant and friendly people, who respect all their neighbours. But we also love freedom and are ready to fight for it.

Don’t wake guerrillas in the Belarusians, Mr Medvedev!

We call on you to respect our country, its people, its laws and build new relations with Belarus as with a neutral independent European state.

Yours faithfully,

Yauhen Afnahel, the coordinator of the civil campaign “European Belarus”,

Zmitser Dashkevich, the leader of “Young Front”

A notice of

Yauhen Afnahel is one of the coordinators of the civil campaign “European Belarus” and the leader of the campaign “Jeans – for Freedom”. In 2001–2004, he was a coordinator of the youth movement “Zubr”. Has more than 10 administrative arrests for organizing and taking part in mass protest actions.

Zmitser Dashkevich is the leader of the opposition organization “Young Front”. Has numerous administrative arrests. Served 1.5 years in prison for leading “Young Front”. Was thrown into prison in accordance with the “political” article of the Criminal Code for “activity on behalf of unregistered organization” in 2006.