During the meeting, the prisoners of conscience were hinted at a possible release. Companions compared what is happening with the negotiations between the terrorist and the hostages
Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued an unspoken ultimatum to political prisoners held in a pre-trial detention center in Belarus. The latter, in fact, were asked to support the development of a new constitution for Belarus in exchange for release. The measure of restraint was changed for two participants in the meeting with Lukashenka, who agreed to give interviews to the Belarusian state channels. However, it is already clear that the ultimatum will not suit all political prisoners in Belarus..
“Tikhanovsky spoke to Lukashenko in a raised voice”
According to lawyer Anton Gashinsky, defending political strategist Vitaly Shklyarov, the meeting was held “in a raised voice.” “Sergei Tikhanovsky was indignant most of all, he expressed what he thinks of Lukashenka,” Gashinsky told the Russian service of the Voice of America..
Lukashenka himself, according to the lawyer, looked prepared: he had a file on all the participants in the meeting, he felt himself master of the situation. According to him, in addition to Tikhanovsky and Shklyarov, the meeting was also attended by ex-presidential candidate Viktor Babariko, members of the Coordination Council of the opposition of Belarus Lilia Vlasova and Maxim Znak, director of the PandaDoc IT company Dmitry Rabtsevich, businessman Yuri Voskresensky, and other political prisoners.
Lukashenka’s meeting with political prisoners of Belarus
“At first the parties exchanged mutual reproaches, Lukashenka brought up some counter arguments. Then everyone expressed their opinion. Well, then we agreed that the next meeting must necessarily take place, and it is desirable that everyone be at large by this time, “Gashinsky said..
According to the lawyer, the meeting indicates that the Lukashenka regime is considering the possibility of releasing political prisoners.
“Some plan and the authorities already have to move in this direction. Immediately after the meeting, Rabtsevich and Voskresensky were released. Why exactly them, I find it difficult to say “, – said Gashinsky.
As “Meduza” writes, immediately after that, as the measure of restraint was changed, the political prisoners appeared on the air of Belarusian TV. Rabtsevich praised the conditions for IT companies in Belarus, and Voskresensky said that he was instructed to prepare proposals for amendments to the Constitution and the release of people who “turned out to be not as socially dangerous for our country as they seemed at the first stage.”.
Anton Gashinsky said that Vitaly Shklyarov also appealed to Alyaksandr Lukashenka, but said that he would disclose the content of the appeal only after his client is free.
According to the lawyer, at the end of the meeting, Shklyarov noticed that in the conditions of the pre-trial detention center, access to the bath was extremely limited, after which Lukashenko ordered his subordinates to take the meeting participants to the bath: “He told someone:” Dima, organize! “.
“They were all taken either to his residence or somewhere else, but the fact is that they were given a steam bath, without an escort, where they were given the opportunity to discuss the situation among themselves without an escort and feel like free people, at least for a while.” , – said Gashinsky.
Lukashenko also allowed Sergei Tikhanovsky to call his wife, who eventually published the content of the conversation. From prison, the arrested rival of Lukashenka called on the opposition of Belarus “to be tougher”. “Harder? I am worried about everyone who is in prison so that this does not affect you. But that means we’ll be tougher, “Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said..
According to a source of the Russian service “Voice of America” familiar with the content of the meeting, another opponent of the Belarusian dictator, Viktor Babariko, who is under arrest, is also a supporter of a tough dialogue with Lukashenko..
Lukashenko: “You can’t write the Constitution on the street”
Only a small excerpt of the meeting was published in the Belarusian state media. Note that Sergei Tikhanovsky is not visible on the published video fragment.
“Half (of those present here – GA), as I understand it, are lawyers, and they perfectly understand that you cannot write a constitution on the street,” Alyaksandr Lukashenka told the meeting participants. “I look at it more broadly, trying to convince not only your supporters, but the whole society”.
Belarus TV did not show the reaction of the meeting participants to the words of Lukashenko.
“The very fact of these negotiations shows that Lukashenka has an understanding that he will not be able to cope with this crisis alone,” Russian opposition politician Ilya Ponomarev said in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America. – That is, we see confirmation of the information that he promised Putin a constitutional reform and new elections. Therefore, Lukashenka is doing everything to win over the leaders of public opinion, so that they agree to new elections and take people off the street “.
However, dialogue with people who are in the position of hostages is counterproductive, Ponomarev summed up: “You cannot write a constitution not only on the street, but also from a pre-trial detention center.”.
Russian opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov says Lukashenko is sending conflicting signals.
Alexander Lukashenko sworn in as Belarus president despite disputed election
“After the meeting in the pre-trial detention center, which was on Saturday, the Sunday protest in Belarus was violently dispersed. So it is not clear what kind of negotiations with the opposition, what he decided there, “- says Gudkov in an interview with” Voice of America “.
The politician suggested that by releasing some political prisoners “about whom they talk in the West,” the Belarusian dictator hopes to ease his own fate..
“Putin has nothing to do with political prisoners in Belarus,” Gudkov is convinced. “Putin also does not like Lukashenka, and does not let him finally fall for one reason only – he simply does not want the democratic protest in Belarus to win”.
USA and EU declared solidarity with protests against election fraud in Belarus
In Belarus, meanwhile, protests have been going on for the third month already: opponents of Alexander Lukashenko are convinced that he lost the presidential elections and must leave. As Voice of America previously noted, the US Treasury Department and the State Department reported on sanctions against Belarusian officials involved in electoral fraud and violence against protesters.
Alexander Lukashenko himself, against whom measures were introduced back in 2004, continues to be under US sanctions.
The foreign ministers of the EU countries recently agreed on a common position on Lukashenka’s inclusion in the sanctions list, “taking into account his inauguration after the elections, which were not free and fair.”.
According to the EU Council, Brussels, among other things, will introduce visa restrictions and freeze Lukashenka’s foreign assets, as well as reduce cooperation with the current government of Belarus and provide additional assistance to the protest movement in the country..
Journalist, on "Voice of America" since 2019. In 2011-2018 he worked as a political observer in the department of politics "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" in Moscow. Winner of the American Hubert Humphrey Fellowship in Journalism. Trained at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
I will follow