Boycott will liberate political prisoners

Boycott campaign initiative group called upon Belarusians to ignore the “parliamentary election”.

Five representatives of the initiative group – Genadz Fiadynich, head of the National Professional Union of Workers of the Radio-electronic Industry; Viktar Ivashkevich, leader of the Belaruski Rukh (Belarusian Movement); Aliaksandar Atroshchankau, coordinator of the civic campaign European Belarus, former political prisoner, press-secretary of the presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov; one of the leaders of the Council of Belarusian Intelligentsia Alaksei Marachkin and Mahiliou coordinator of European Belarus Viktar Boldzin – gave a press-conference 2 February in Minsk.

They claimed that the participation in the election is pointless while political prisoners are still kept behind the bars. According to the supporters of the boycott, by taking part in the election preparation and removing the candidates several days before the election they empower the authorities to keep the political prisoners in jail. On the other side, protests, immediate boycott and call to ignore the election may help make the powers release political prisoners.

“Surprisingly, some politicians are determined to postpone the boycott question till autumn. This will give the regime a carte-blanche to keep political prisoners in jail until September. So I wonder when those politicians were telling the truth: then or now when they are going to take part in something that according to them does not exist.

Today the campaign is coordinated in all Belarusian regions and 15 major cities. The coordinators report that the most of local activists and coordinators of democratic organizations are likely support the boycott. We don’t want to lose time, and start an active overall boycott today, not expecting Yarmoshyna’s permission,” Viktar Ivashkevich said.

Ales Marachkin was representing the Council of Belarusian Intelligentsia that gave its support to the boycott campaign. On Friday the Council makes its statement.

Genadz Fiadynich who the day before yesterday became the vice-president of the Federation of Independent Unions said he supports the boycott of the election for the “chamber” that does not represent its voters. He told about his own experience of being a candidate for the “parliament” when a representative of the administration said that no matter how many votes Fiadynich would get, they could only ”give” him as much as 12%. Moreover, Fiadynich cited the results of several polls held by independent unions in September 2010 that show that up to two thirds of Belarusians consider the “parliament” election at least partially falsified and have no positive expectations from it.

Mahiliou coordinator of European Belarus Viktar Boldzin said, “Today common people have no interest in this election. The majority of political and social activists tend to support the boycott. The unclear, inconsequent position of the party leaders is simply puzzling and irritating.”

“Basically the question of “parliamentary election” should not be discussed today at all. Belarus has not have the presidential election yet, the regime has demonstrated its inability to hold a proper voting. The participation in the “parliamentary election” when our real leaders – the politicians who got the actual votes of millions of Belarusians – are in jail, is amoral and unacceptable.

The boycott campaign is more that the boycott of the parliamentary election. We call upon an overall boycott of the regime. And I am sure that all sound powers and movements who focus on the Belarusian people and the country’s best, will join us,” Aliaksandar Atroshchankau, the coordinator of the civic campaign European Belarus, said.

The boycott statement has previously been signed by the initiative group consisting of Stanislau Shushkevich, Aliaksandar Kazulin, Viktar Ivashkevich, Yaugen Afnagel and Paval Marynich. The statement was supported by the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party, the Conservative Christian Party of the Belarusian People’s Front, initiative Osvobozhdenie (Liberation), the Coordinating Council of the People’s Gatherings, Belaruski Rukh, the coalition Spadchyna (Heritage).