The Supreme Council and Central Committee of Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus have come forward with a surprise initiative "to legalize the white-red-white flag and Pahonia coat-of-arms and recognize them as historical and cultural heritage assets." Why has LDP decided to stand up for the somewhat outcast national symbols? What is behind this decision? What means does the party plan to use in order to have this initiative implemented? First Deputy Chairman of Liberal Democratic Party Aleh Haudikevich was in Euroradio's studio in Minsk live to give a better explanation to their U-turn move.
When did the white-red-white flag and Pahonia become assets for Aleh Haidukevich?
I have evolved along with the rest of our society since 1991 when Belarus gained independence. At the background of the conflict in the early 1990s between various political forces, there was opposition between the Soviet symbols and the new symbols of the independent Belarus. With time we have a new generation of people who actually grew up in an independent Belarus. They have no idea about the conflict in the 1990s. They treat the symbols quietly. To them, the white-red-white flag and Pahonia represent the history of our country. They treat these symbols with respect. Times are gone when only hardcore opposition activists or members of Belarusian Popular Front would walk carrying Pahonia symbols. I know some folks who have Pahonia on their T-shirts but they support a union with Russia, our president and so on. Mentality of people has changed. Hence, the time was ripe for our party's statesment. In fact, we have not voiced anything new. Our party always tries to feel what is going in in society. We have simply voiced the sentiment of people, the moods of the elites.
How many people ended up in Frunzenski District police station over the national symbols when he was the commanding police officer there?
None. When people were prosecuted for violating the order of mass events, they were prosecuted for violating the order of mass events - not for carrying national symbols. Secondly, there is a law that deals with mass events. Today, the most important thing is that the law matchs current realities. One does not need to recall what was happening in the 1990s. Let's not get back into a conflict. I believe we need to learn to listen to each other. Time has come to live the way we are living now. Many things have changed, and there is no longer negative attitude towards the white-red-white flag and Pahonia including from the ranks of authorities.
Was the idea about the national symbols "proposed from above?"
We have heard these fairtales that we are told what to do for many years. We have also heard that we are a fake opposition. All of that has to remain in the past. We have proved ourselved over the years of our work that we are an independent political force with an independent viewpoint. Prove me wrong or name it: what have we gained from those in power? Everythig we have we have achieved ourselves. We worked and we got an MP seat ourselves. We also managed to get a senator seat. Nothing came to us for granted.
How will LDP ensure that the national symbols are 'legalized?'
When a party represented in the parliament makes a statement like this one, it grabs attention and triggers debates in government bodies, among MPs. The task for politicians is to voice what people want. State bodies and the authorities must react to this and take decisions.