Belarus. Alyaksandr Lukashenka on the elections and the persecution of oppositionists – an interview with the BBC

Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka in an interview with the British broadcaster BBC said that support for him is growing in the country. – There are more and more people who come to their senses. So that’s not 80 percent anymore. Now it’s 87 or 90 percent, he said, referring to last year’s presidential election results, which were commonly believed to have been rigged. Lukashenka admitted that prisoners were beaten in one of the prisons, but explained that it was a response to the violence against police officers. The entire conversation with Lukashenka was broadcast on Monday, but its fragment on the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border was published on Friday.

In an interview with the BBC, Alyaksandr Lukashenka was asked about the honesty of the 2020 presidential election and the anti-government protests that broke out after Lukashenka was declared the winner. BBC journalist Steve Rosenberg, who published an excerpt from the conversation on Twitter, asked Lukashenka whether he actually received 80 percent of the support in last year’s presidential election and how it was possible that such mass demonstrations took place with so much public support. “It doesn’t make sense,” the journalist assessed.

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“You’re out of your mind, Steve, your leaders are out of your mind.” I will answer the question. You mentioned the 80 percent result. This is not my data. These are the data of the Central Election Commission – argued Lukashenka. When asked if he agreed with them, he replied, “Listen to me.” The Commission has released these figures. This is a legally binding fact.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka on the elections in Belarus

– You say: crowds took to the streets and so on. Steve, crowds of followers [Zachodu – przyp. BBC] in Belarus, they take to the streets of Minsk after elections for 25 years. Always. But this year it was better prepared [przez Zachód – przyp. BBC]. Various foundations, British, German, American, sent money as well as people. It was organized during a pandemic and the process took longer, said Lukashenka.

Rosenberg noted that he was in Belarus during the protests and that he saw with his own eyes what was happening then. – If you don’t listen, we end this conversation. You want it? So 80 percent. This is a legally valid, indisputable fact. You have no other numbers, replied Lukashenka, avoiding answering the question.

If you don’t listen, we end this conversation. You want it? So 80 percent. This is a legally valid, indisputable fact. You don’t have any other numbers.

The journalist noted that with the support of 80 percent of the population, “one would rather expect an outpouring of love towards the victorious leader.” – But instead, people flocked to the streets shouting: “Lukashenka, step back!”. You flew a helicopter in a bulletproof vest and with a gun in your hands, as if you were afraid of your own nation – said Rosenberg.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka with a rifle in his hand SPUTNIK Russia/East News

– You’re talking about love. In Great Britain and the United States, you can simulate this love. What did we have here after the election? Many people participated in [prorządowych – przyp. BBC] demonstrations and still run with the national flag. And there are more and more people who come to their senses. So that’s not 80 percent anymore. Now it’s like 87 or 90 percent – argued Lukashenka. He added that Belarus is a “democratic country” and anyone wishing to take part in the protest has the right to do so.

“People were beaten in Okrestin, but policemen were beaten too.”

Rosenberg recalled that thousands of opponents of the Belarusian regime protested in the streets of Belarusian cities. He reported seeing “the police stop people, peaceful demonstrators.” – We saw them beating these people. We saw them leave Okrestin arrest with injuries. We saw it with our own eyes. I can show the video – said the journalist, reaching for the tablet.

– You do not have to, you do not have to. I admit, I admit. People were beaten in Okrestin, but policemen were also beaten. But you didn’t show it anymore, ‘replied Lukashenka. – What would happen in Great Britain, and especially in the United States, if people attacked policemen and wanted to break their legs? They would get a bullet in the head right away. We didn’t shoot anyone in the head – he said.

The BBC journalist also mentioned that 270 non-governmental organizations have been closed in Belarus since July.

– We’ll wipe out all the scum you funded. Oh, you are unhappy that we have destroyed all your structures. Your NGOs, whatever it was that you paid for. We did not touch the people who acted for Belarus with a finger. We helped people. But for those who used your help, took money from you and destroyed everything here – you saw your people here in Minsk – if we have not liquidated them yet, we will do so in the near future – said Lukashenka.

The Belarusian leader said that even the animal rights organization was “just a cover”, drawing money from the West to “finance the revolution in Belarus.” – Not a revolution. Uprising – he specified.

“We don’t have any political prisoners, you hear?”

Lukashenka was asked about political prisoners in Belarus. The estimated number is 873 now. – We don’t have political crimes in our law, Steve. We do not have such crimes (political – ed.) For which we condemn people. These are the people who broke the Belarusian law, he argued.

When asked by a journalist “how many political prisoners are there in Belarus”, Lukashenka repeated: “We don’t have any political prisoners, do you hear? Not one. There are no such crimes with us.”

When asked about the Belarusian oppositionist Maria Kalesnikawa, Lukashenka replied that “she is [zachodnią – przy. BBC] agent. She added that she was in prison because she “broke the law”. At the journalist’s comment that Kalesnikawa must be brave, since she was at the forefront of the protests and did not flee the country, Lukashenka stated that “Maria Kalesnikova fled the country, she was arrested at the border.”

– Is her imprisonment revenge? Rosenberg asked directly. – Absolutely not. I am not a person to take revenge. Remember this if you want to understand who I am – answered Lukashenka.

Migrant camp near Kuźnica, on the Belarusian sideDWOT

Lukashenka on the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border

On Friday, the British broadcaster of the BBC published an excerpt from the conversation with Lukashenka, in which the issue of the crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border was raised in the common opinion of the West by Minsk. The Belarusian leader was asked if his services helped migrants get to Poland. – I think it is absolutely possible. We are Slavs. We have hearts. Our troops know that migrants are going to Germany, said the Belarusian politician.

– Maybe someone was helping them. I won’t even look at it, ‘he added. However, he denied that Belarus was inviting thousands of migrants to trigger a border crisis.

– I told them that I do not intend to detain migrants at the border, detain them at the border, and if they continue to come, I still will not stop them, because they are not coming to my country, but to yours – he said. – That’s what I meant. But I didn’t invite them here. And frankly speaking, I do not want them to pass through Belarus, he added.

Main photo source: SPUTNIK Russia/East News

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