On Friday, Pavel Latushka, Head of the People’s Anti-Crisis Administration (PACA) and a former state official, has addressed ‘all Belarusians whose hearts need change’.
“On March 25, Freedom Day, take to the central streets of your cities throughtout the country. Show that our will is stronger than fear!” he urged protesters and dissidents.
One cannot be silent while ‘hundreds of innocent people are in being held in prisons, while hundreds of thousands are being repressed, fired, forced into emigration’, Latushka believes.
Freedom Day (Dzień Voli) is an unofficial holiday in Belarus, which is celebrated on March 25 to commemorate the creation on that date in 1918 of the Belarusian People’s Republic (BNR). It came into existence at the end of the First World War, when Bolshevik forces left Minsk and the city was occupied by German troops. On March 25, 1918 the Provisional Government (Rada) proclaimed the independence of the BNR. After the Red Army re-entered Minsk, the Communist government replaced the Rada; its members had to emigrate. Alyaksandr Lukashenka, his coterie and subordinates deny Freedom Day and keep barring the opposition forces from celebrating it.
“On March 25, we are starting a nationwide protest spring – the spring of our liberation! We announce the Pulse of Our Will action,” Pavel Latushka stressed.
According to the PACA, Pulse of Our Will will include the preparation of Belarusian offstreet yards’ protesters for Freedom Day and rallies which will take place on March, 25. The opposition politician promised to announce the details of the first (‘preparatory’) stage in the near future.
In late February, opposition politician Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya urged Belarusians to ‘get ready for Freedom Day’, i.e. to mobilise ‘the spirit of protest’, build safe communities, plan to return to the streets of their own cities.
Pavel Latushka is a former minister of culture of Belarus; he also served as Belarus’ Ambassador to Poland and France. In March 2019, he was appointed director of the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theatre. He lost his job after he openly supported anti-government protesters, including his subordinates who took part in rallies, and condemned police abuse and violence against dissidents.
Pavel Latushka also joined the board of the opposition Coordination Council which was set up by Tsikhanouskaya and her associates as part of taking urgent measures to restore law and order in Belarus as well as to ensure the transfer of power in the country. Belarus’ Prosecutor General opened a criminal case over establishing the Council, naming it a ‘threat to national security’. In early September, Belarusian special services gave Latushka an unpleasant choice: either he leaves the country, or a criminal case will be instituted against him. Since late October, he has been in charge of the People’s Anti-Crisis Administration (PACA) in exile.
In mid January, Latushka said in a video message that the Belarusian opposition was going to push for recognising the Lukashenka regime as terrorism on the global stage.