We might have to defend Belarus’ independence next year – former political prisoner

November, 28 was the birthday of a prominent Belarusians who had to spend his last years of life in exile. Yesterday Pavel Sheremet would have turned 45 – if he were alive.

Stripped of Belarusian citizenship by Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Pavel Sheremet literally lived and breathed his Motherland. In addition to big media projects, Belarusian Partisan and Historical Truth, he initiated a number of civil and political campaigns. On July 20, Pavel Sheremet was killed in a car explosion in the centre of Kyiv. The investigation into the murder of our compatriot is still in progress.

A long period of the dictatorship does have an adverse impact on Belarusians, Zmitser Bandarenka, a representative of the civil campaign European Belarus and former political prisoner, says.

“It is very hard to live under a dictatorship, it is very hard not to be free. Pavel Sheremet, Pyotr Martsau, Viktar Ivashkevich, Aleh Byabenin, Ihar Hermyanchuk, Vital Taras, Uladzimir Babaryka, Veranika Charkasava, Volha Karatkevich, Dzmitry Zavadski and many other people who were the stars of Belarusian journalism left us young for various reasons. Some were killed, others had undermined health due longstanding pressure. These people died very young,” Bandarenka stressed.

Mr Bandarenka remembered a grim prediction by U.S. political analyst Zbigniew Brzezinski who said that Russia would seize Belarus first and then the turn of Ukraine would come. Brzezinski suggested that the West would not stand up for Alyaksandr Lukashenka and emphasized that Russia had already done much for the sake of a ‘quiet occupation’.

“In the 1990s, Russia did not go to the length of a military intervention into Belarus, because they had a trouble spot in Chechnya. Over the last few years, Ukrainians and Belarusians who are fighting for freedom of Ukraine in Donbas have been protecting us; but I am sure that we will have to defend our independence with arms in our hands. In my opinion, this is going to happen next year,” said the activist.


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