Kazulin: “I am not Lukashenka’s enemy, I am his conscience” (being updated)

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A former presidential contender and political prisoner Alyaksandr Kazulin has given his first press conference after the release today, on August 20. He told journalists about his release, participation in the elections and the situation in his party. About the release: “I hardly managed to put on my clothes”

“Two deputy heads of the colony summoned me on Saturday morning and informed me about the death of my father-in-law. Of course I wanted to call my relatives, my mother-in-law and daughters to take part in it somehow. They promised to contact the head of the colony and solve the problem. I went to church and returned to them with my issue. They said it would be solved as soon as the head of the colony arrived. Then it was like a quick-motion movie. The first deputy head of the colony came up to me and said I had to pack all my personal belongings. Two minutes later they came and said I had only 15 minuets to do it instead of 30. I started to pack and then the head of the colony came and told me I had no time. The arrangement took about 8 or 10 minutes. I hardly managed to put on my clothes”.

About the pardon: "I accept the pardon as an act of justice but I do not accept its form”

“But for the death of my father-in-law, I would have not accepted the opportunity to be released. My morals and ethic beliefs do not allow me to accept the pardon decree. There is always some basis – your conscience and principles. I cannot forget about them and I never will. Furthermore, I would have never left the colony if Syarhei Parsyukevich and Andrei Kim had not been released. They would have to drag me out of prison. But I would have not accepted the pardon”.

About the participation in the parliamentary elections: “It is a cynic lie”

“I cannot participate in the parliamentary elections. Some mass media wrote that our authorities were so humane that they were not afraid to release Kazulin knowing about the possibility of his participation in the parliamentary elections. However, I had only one day to create an initiative group and collect at least one thousand signatures. It is clear it was impossible. It is a cynic lie”.

About the Belarusian dialogue with the West: “We can make a nice wrapping if we need it”

“The USA and the European Union should not consider my release as a fact allowing to conduct negotiations about closer cooperation with Belarus. It has to be an unconditional release. My pardon is not an unconditional release because I am considered to be a person having pervious convictions. Only my, Parsyukevich and Kims’ unconditional release may be a step towards the making Belarus closer to the USA and the European Union. We can always make a nice wrapping if we need it. But the USA, the European Union and the OSCE should be reasonable and they should stick to their principles if we want to witness a democratization of the Belarusian society and to see Belarus following a civilized way of development. Only this can bring some positive results”.

About the party: “The administration of my party has played Lukashenka’s game”

“I do not know what my future will be like. Moreover, I am starting from scratch today. The fact I have been replaced in my position of the head of my party is a sign I need to bid farewell to my past and to get rid of all my previous problems. I am nobody today and I am very pleased with it. That’s a zero. A zero is the void embracing everything. All ways are open for me today. I will be watching events calmly. Speaking about my party, I cannot say anything bad about party members as part of my life was connected with them. I wish them luck. It is a moral issue whether anything should be decided about the administration of the party when its head is imprisoned. It is not a party issue; it is the issue of some members. The actions of Mr. Lyaukovich can only be called betrayal. It is well-known that there is no sin worse than betrayal. My attitude to Layaukovich is calm. The party could take the decision but it was a technical meeting and everything was performed off stage. It was not discussed in the Central Committee and it was not put on the agenda in regional affiliates. Everything was prepared secretly. I accept this fact and I would only like to ask: “Who needed it?”

About the presidential election and the legitimacy of the parliamentary elections: “You should not make the elections legitimate by taking part in them”

“There is little time left before the elections. But it is a lot in Belarus as anything can happen in such a period. I will certainly take part in the presidential elections. The thing is I do not know what part I will play there. A boycott of the parliamentary elections is already a utopia. It is the President’s game. He has claimed that we will have open and true parliamentary elections that will help Belarus become closer to the USA and the European Union and it should be approved. But we need real steps towards the democratization of the society. We should cooperate with the European Union, the OSCE and international observes. If Lukashenka fails to fulfill his commitments and if a lie is noticed, and many lies have already been noticed, it will mean that we should not use the authorities’ scenario of actions. We should not make the elections legal by taking part in them”.

Photo by: Charter-97