Swiatłana Cichanouska met with Anita Werner, the journalist of “Fakt” TVN after more than a year. – We underestimated the cruelty of the regime and its minions. We’ve seen hell, she said, summing up what has happened this year. When asked about the crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border, she replied: – What is important here is that there should be no cooperation with the regime. Lukashenka is blackmailing Poland, he is blackmailing the entire European Union. This blackmail cannot be reacted to.
The leader of the Belarusian opposition was the guest of the Tuesday edition of “Fakty po Faktach” on TVN24 Swiatłana Cichanouska. At the beginning of the conversation, the previous meeting with Anita Werner was returned to the online formula, which took place on September 1, 2020. What has changed during this time?
– A lot has changed in Belarus. Positive and negative of course. In September, when we met, demonstrations took place in the streets of the cities. Back then, Belarusians believed that the regime, seeing the determination of the people, would change its mind and understand that the people no longer wanted to live under this government, under this dictator, and that he would at least start a dialogue. But we underestimated the cruelty of the regime and its minions. We’ve seen hell, she admitted.
She said that more than 35,000 people have been detained since that meeting. – At the moment, thousands of people are in prison, over 700 are recognized as political prisoners, and hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee the country due to repression – she mentioned. She stressed that “the violence continues to this day”.
The conversation also touched on the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border. Cichanouska was asked what, in her opinion, is the most important in managing this type of crisis. – First of all, it is important not to forget who is to blame for this crisis – she replied.
– The European Union and other democratic countries must be united to solve the migration crisis, but they must also pay more attention to solving the causes of this crisis. And this is the Lukashenka regime. Building a wall between our countries may stop the influx of immigrants, but the regime has come up with something else. The regime will escalate the migration crisis, so it is important that we get rid of the causes of this crisis. People who are deliberately taken to the border are victims of this regime, she said.
Cichanouska said she was watching the debate in the Polish parliament on how to treat migrants at the border. She also noticed a split in this case. – This is what the Lukashenka regime wants, because before that there was absolute agreement as to the situation in Belarus, and now, when people are starting to argue about this situation, it is not normal – she explained.
– What is important here is that there should be no cooperation with the regime. Lukashenka is blackmailing Poland, he is blackmailing the entire European Union. This blackmail cannot be reacted to. You have to clearly show that you are strong, united. It is a big challenge, but you will manage, she said.
When asked about the situation of migrants, including families with children at the border, as well as about the assessment of the Polish authorities’ actions in the face of the migration crisis, Cichanouska replied that in her opinion “Polish authorities are doing what they can”.
– On the one hand, we have people there who are in bad shape. Children, pregnant women are allowed to enter. They don’t send them all back. Each person, each story is considered separately. On the other hand, I am sure you are cooperating with the Iraqi government in trying to stop these migrant flights to Minsk. You explain to these people that it is all a lie, that they will not join the European Union as easily as the Belarusian government promises them, she said.
Cichanouska expressed her belief that Poland chose “the right strategy”. – I think that the Polish authorities are experienced enough to do what they can and they know that the reaction to this blackmail cannot be to let these people in. It is Lukashenka who is responsible for the fact that these people have such and not another fate – she assessed.
What would have to happen for Alexander Lukashenka to stop his activities? – Only united, strong position vis-à-vis the regime. We are talking about political isolation, we are talking about sanctions against state-owned companies that support Lukashenka, she mentioned. – We must treat the cause of this problem in an appropriate manner – she pointed out.
– The European Union, the United States and other democratic countries should assume a fundamental position, show that we will not react to this blackmail, that we will be stronger than the one who is blackmailing us. When you start talking to the regime, you show weakness. I am sure that the Polish authorities understand this and the entire European society understands it. I know it’s important to end this crisis, but it’s high time to really show courage, she concluded.
Main photo source: TVN24