Alexander Kozulin sends Christmas greetings from Belarus jail
My dear Belarusian CITIZENS,
Under the good old tradition, we are summing up the results of the outgoing year and setting our plans for the future. What happened this year in our country which both the government and the opposition call "a nation in the center of Europe"? I will tell you about the most important events.
In January 2007, the election campaign for the local councils ended, but the Belarusian authorites turned it into another electoral farce.
Early this year, Belarus was at energy wars with Russia. Those wars were even worse because of the lack of economic efficiency and the political reaction of the ruling Belarusian regime. On the other hand, the Belarusian pro-democracy opposition failed to engage in an autonomous dialogue with the Russian side.
The united pro-democracy forces spent six montghs postponing their congress just to end up sorting out their internal relations, a new form of leadership instead of developing and implementing a policy that could defeat the authoritarian regime.
There has been less unity in the actions of the opposition. The authorites routinely persecuted the opposition, with numerous citizens bullied by the police machine. This system was used not only to supress the dissent but also to revenge the competitors and businessmen who wished not to bribe the bureaucrats.
Unfair trials and unjustified harsh sentences cannot be repaired by even several amnesties. The Belarusians have in fact remained deprived of many civil rights: the right to freedom of expression and religion; the right to assembly.
In Belarus, it is impossible to register new puiblic associations apart from the odious structures like Belaya Rus.
Throughout the whole year, official Minsk has ignored EU's porposals voiced in November 2006. The Belarusian authorities would sometimes hit the Europeans' extended hand with "shame", yet continuing at the same time the rerpessive domestic policy.
The Belarusian authorities continued the policy of self-isolation. It was neither the European Union nor Russia who became their true allies. It was the odious regimes in Iran and Venezuela.
The Belarusian leader, clearly nostalgic about the nuclear weapons, decided to build a nuclear power plant without a referendum in the country which suffered the most from the Chernobyl accident.
The authorities followed the interests of bureaucratic corporations to eradicate small-size entrepreneurs as a class.
Those at power began selling out the national property to foreign investors without any public control or transparent tenders. At the same time, corruption threatens to flourish at the very top level of the power. In fact, our national economy is under threat of being illegally privatized.
Ordinary folks are left with a simple choice between food and modest well-being. Presently, up to one third of Belarus's population live at the verge of poverty. After the abolition of social benefits and with the growth of utilities and foodstuff costs, the majority of Bealrusians will face a miserable survival.
The Belarusian authorities lead the country's economy to an inevitable collapse which cannot be avoided by either the abolition of benefits ot foreign loans.
We have to admit that the development of the Belarusian state has come to the critical point. The authorities degrade hundreds of thousand if not millions people. They try to make us kneel down in front of one person who rules us.
The authority in Belarus has been trapped in the swamp of lies and deception of the own people. The Belarusian language, architecture, our centuries-old culture is being destroyed. The Belarusian nation is dying out…
Given all the above mentioned, we must come to the single conclusion: everybody must fight for his or her rights and for positive changes. I call on everyone of you to understand yourslef deep down, because the fate of the nation depends on how individuals think and act.
Belarusians are not the French who can strike as a whole country and get their rights realized. Unfortunately, we are subdued by the painful experience of the previous centuries. But the time has come to understand that a nation which fights for even insignificant things, cannot be deprived of the main values: Freedom and Independence.
The authorities have been sued to suffocating Belarusian citizens one by one. Let's fight together indeed by showing a genuine solidarity with each other, forgiving small offences and forgeting personal ambitions.
I am calling on you to fight. I am calling on the members of the Malady Front, the For Freedom! movement, the members of the organizing commitees of the newly created parties to fight for your registration. I am calling on the editors and readers of the Narodnaya Volya, Novy Chas and other independent newspapers to fight for your right to be publushed and distributed on the territory of Belarus. I am calling on small-size entrepreneurs to fight for your right to decent jobs and to provide for your families. I am calling on businesspeople to fight for their buisinesses extorted by law-enforcement agencies. I am calling on all those who were fired to fight for your jobs. I am calling on trade unions to fight for the abolition of labor contracts. I am calling on students, mothers, Chernbyl liquidators, Afghanistan war veterans, pensioners to fight against the abolition of social benefits from the state. We are many and together we will have our rights realized.
Next year, our beloved country can come close to the victory of freedom amd democracy. Decisive actions are needed. The opposition will be faced with the moment of truth when pro-democracy forces must create a shadow cabinet which will enjoy people's confidence and make sure that free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections are held in 2008.
My dear Belarusian people! The whole civilized world is looking at you with hope and readiness to help. But your future lies in your hard-working hands!
People of Belarus! I am with you. I am ready to enter in our struggle with a new strength. Big joint acts and victories are waiting for us!
I am wishing you health and happiness. May God's goodness and joy enter every house in these festive days. Happy New 2008 Year!