Veronica Mishchenko: "There should be a loud action that will start a strike."

Member of the Presidium of "The Narodnaya Hramada" party, political activist Veronika Mishchenko spoke about the Belarusian Revolution, Sergey Tikhanovsky, and what will happen next.

- A few words about yourself and the party you are a member of.

- The party is called "Narodnaya Hramada" - not to be confused with "Hramada." I am a member of the presidium, head of the information commission. I have all the party's information resources in my hands, which I managed to preserve, by the way. I was a candidate for a protest on the strategy of Mikalai Statkevich.

I am a video marketer by profession. Because my accounts were arrested last year, I was an individual entrepreneur. Nominally, I probably remain with them. I was born and lived in Zhlobin until 2019. Then I lived in Minsk.

- Is your party registered? How long have you been in it, and why did you decide to join?

- "Narodnaya Hramada" is not registered. Two reasons. First, in principle, parties are not registered in our country now. Second, we did not submit the lists to the Ministry of Justice to not expose people. We even say in our presentation: a party that is fighting. These constant days, constant repressions are the companions of both the leaders and the rank-and-file members of "Narodnaya Hramada."

I was previously very active in the civic sense. Although I did not know how many parties we have and what kind of parties, I, like most Belarusians, have not seen this political life. The party was something so ephemeral. Therefore, I was surprised to learn that we have more than 20 parties in Belarus, including unregistered ones.

Until a certain moment, civic engagement was enough for me. But when the non-parasites marches were held in 2017, I decided that I wanted to fight purposefully. I needed a party. I considered both "Tell the Truth" and Milinkevich's party and other parties. But it so happened that I am very active in social networks - I caught the eye of the post of Sergey Sparish. The famous photo - where he stands with a red-green flag on his shoulders, and in his hands is a white-red-white.

And when he, together with Yan Grib, was raked down from the avenue for the red-green flag. And then the riot policeman stamped his feet on the flag, smeared it - Sergey had a great post. I wrote something in the comments, Sergey answered. We subscribed to each other and started communicating. And about a couple of months later, Sergey asked me to create a YouTube channel for Nikolai Statkevich. And he said: "Only we have no money, we are not registered." I replied, “The enemy of my enemy is my enemy. Finally, I can do something real. "

Then I created the channel of Nikolai Statkevich. I released several videos on it. And then there was a scandal. The man hid Mikalai Statkevich in his apartment to come to the march on March 25 (in 2017). And Statkevich was tracked down - stolen from this apartment.

There was a very unpleasant story. We always like to blame all the people who do something on Facebook and all social networks. And for me, it was such a shock - well, I came into a political struggle, and here it is. Then I quietly moved away from this. I still helped Sergei Sparish, doing all the posts. But not so active anymore.

And then I moved to Minsk. And I met Nikolai Statkevich and talked, and after that, I became actively involved, started filming actions, and wrote about them. I participated so actively that by the 2019 elections, I suddenly became a member of the Central Committee of Narodnaya Hramada and the head of the information commission.

And then, for the first time, we went to the parliamentary campaign as candidates for deputies to stand openly at pickets.

- You, probably, became known to the representatives of the power apparatus, became familiar with the actions. Was there already some pressure on you in 2019, or did it only start in 2020?

- After an interview with Sergey Tikhanovsky (in July 2019), we began to promote this campaign - we prepared candidates for it. Then I asked Sergey: "What if I say openly: Lukashenko should leave?" Because the slogan of our parliamentary campaign was: Lukashenko must leave.

Tikhanovsky replied: "I'm all for it." This was the first political interview on the Country for Life channel, after which the channel's tone completely changed. Before that, his guests were businessmen. He boldly and interestingly built interviews with them. The channel grew well. After my interview, Sergei completely switched to political topics, to guest-politicians, becoming the first political blogger-newsmaker in the Belarusian YouTube.

Surprisingly, we defended the entire campaign. We had Lukashenko's cartoons everywhere. And there was nothing {reaction of the authorities}. And even when Sergei gathered a huge picket, when all the bloggers were near "Korona." Even then, there was nothing - no reprisals against us.

But then the arrests began. The first is Sergey Tikhanovsky after he filmed the final rally on Freedom Square, at which we burned our certificates. No sooner had he left Svoboda Square than the traffic cops stopped him and said that the car was wanted. The numbers on it are fake. Based on this, Sergei was taken to the traffic police.

He managed to send a voice message, we went to the traffic police, made a fuss on social networks, and he was released late at night. The car was detained. And then there was a rally under the traffic police. Sergey gathered at least a hundred people where he sang his song PochesuiShablyko.

And the second person who was detained in this campaign was Sergey Sparish. Then we had a picket under the trial of Dima Palienko. And Statkevich told us to leave after the campaign. Lie to the bottom. We left Belarus for a week. And Sergey went to the second trial to Dima Palienko.

During that campaign, there were two repressed - Sergey Tikhanovsky and Sergey Sparish. We were not touched at all. Therefore, we calmly went into the presidential campaign.

We understood what awaited us. But we thought that we were protected by the status of a contender for the presidency. Why did Statkevich tell all bloggers to become protest candidates, including Tikhanovsky? Because no matter how base Lukashenko stooped, a presidential candidate was a person protected by this status.

- That is, you thought that if there were no formal reason, they would not cling to you?

We went to the elections to meet with people at these pickets and in the parliamentary campaign to talk about the situation in the country. These are completely legal and legal methods of campaigning. But Lukashenko had already decided that "he would not give up his beloved." None of the repressed have ever violated the Constitution.

It so happened that Sergey Tikhanovsky's trips became a catalyst for the presidential campaign. His communication with people in the cities was continued by our autumn and winter campaigns: the parliamentary campaign ended on November 15, when the Christmas tree was put up, and more than a thousand people gathered.

Then, at the end of November, a rally of Free Belarusians with a cardboard double HEXTA. In December, rallies for independence began on December 7-8 (when Pavel Severinets marched to the Russian embassy and Independence Square). Then covid, people talked about their troubles. People believed that they could build a country for life if they choose a worthy president instead of Lukashenko.

- You were the confidant of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in the elections. How did it come about?

- Valentin Trotsky and I were surprised why we were chosen {confidants}. The fact is that when I became a confidant of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, I only left the CIP for a week (this was in July).

The day after my release, I became illegal and went into hiding for the next nine months. I knew that I was already a criminal. The policemen then apparently doubted who to take - Sparish or me.

And at that moment, Maria Moroz {head of the campaign headquarters of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya} called me and offered to be a confidant. I agreed. I was glad.

Then Svetlana Tikhanovskaya called me - we talked for a long time about Sergey's situation in the country. We agreed to meet in the evening.

We met with Svetlana at Babariko's headquarters. I was very bribed that she came up and hugged me. At the same time, she herself barely kept her legs from fatigue - she had not eaten or slept for a day.

And at that moment it was very fast, one hour. Everyone was on emotions. Everyone tried to persuade Svetlana to move on. She did not want to. She asked to write a letter to Sergey that it was we who forced her {to continue the campaign} because Sergey was against her running further.

- As a confidant, did you somehow participate in the election campaign?

- I said right away that I was in an illegal position, and naturally, I would not be able to conduct any pickets because they will pick me up right away. Svetlana replied that it didn’t matter.

But all the information resources of "Narodnaya Hramada" were in support of this campaign.

On August 5, I left and hid. When I was driving, my arms and legs were shaking. I understood that I could face up to 12 years for calling to go to the Square against falsification of elections. I recorded a video with the appeal on the train and said that I was giving up my trustee status not to harm Svetlana. “I call everyone to the Square. I speak only from myself and not from Svetlana and "Narodnaya Gramada" to not let anyone down from those nearby. "

On August 15, I returned to Minsk and lived there permanently until mid-December, went to all marches and actions, hosted all our channels and social networks. After the elections, "Narodnaya Hramada" issued a resolution to recognize Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as the elected legitimate president.

- Let's get back to your conclusion {Veronika Mishchenko was detained on June 7 and spent a month in the pre-trial detention center}. Was the detention conditions a shock to you?

- Thanks to Nikolai Dedok and Nikolai Statkevich (they told about the conditions of detention). So I already knew what I was going for. Therefore, it was no humiliation for me - to bend down, sit down, undress, and so on. I knew that this was a prison and that the prison would be like that. But I thought it would be 15 days.

But the very next day, I was sent to the punishment cell. They removed the mattresses, and then they also began to plant the homeless. What saved me was that I had an idea.

It was necessary to occupy your day somehow. The most important thing is sports. Need to exercise in the morning (at night, you sleep on bare bunks at a temperature of 15 degrees).

And then, I set myself the task that I should lose 10 kilograms. And 5 kilometers every day to walk through the cell. Because it was warming, plus, if you walk, your brain works very well. Because there is no natural light and air in the cell.

Plus all sorts of laundry and cleaning in the cell - we learned how to make shampoo there. You do this all day, and it goes unnoticed.

The main problem is the cold and lice, which practically ate me in the punishment cell. Plus, there was no water.

What else I want to say. Thanks to those guards who carried the water. One guard brought me hot water to wash my hair. Then I found out that some of my friends were not wearing anything by the guards.

- How can you build a country to live in? And what is it like in your mind?

- To begin with, the most important thing is fair elections. When they choose worthy people who will build this country, nothing will happen without fair elections.

- And what kind of elections - local, parliamentary, presidential?

- Everything.

- Where to begin?

- The fish rots from the head. If we do not remove Lukashenko, there will be no fair elections. If Yarmoshina counts, there will be no elections. All the same, we start with the president—further - the parliament and then the local elections.

After all, how has he built his vertical since 1994? He removed local government. I remember the mayor was elected. The judges were elected. And he built his vertical on the principle of the mafia.

- Probably, it all started in 1996.

- Yes. After the referendum. Later, decrees and decrees were issued. It wasn't easy to keep track of it there. And then, as an entrepreneur, I can say - we don't need help. Just don't bother us.

- In addition to laws, there should also be a court - a fair court, which will judge their implementation, do you agree?

- The main law is the constitution. No decrees, no decrees. There should be elections at all levels, and the branches of government should be divided the way they should be divided in democracies. Judicial, executive, legislative. As an entrepreneur, I remember 1999 - the courts were still fair, and there were no 94 or 98 percent convictions. Nowhere is there anything like that for fines to be included in the budget.

After the victory, my biggest dream is to make Belarusian Switzerland out of one western region. I was recently in Trakai: our region is very similar to Trakai. As an internet marketer, I know how to attract investment, make this place attractive to people, and create jobs there. As Bukovel did in Ukraine, it would create a resort so that it would receive Belarusians and Europeans all year round.

- When will Belarusians be able to return home, when will political prisoners be released?

- Tikhanovsky said it best of all. Each of the Belarusians holds the key to the political prisoners' cell.

- And when will it be possible to open this chamber?

- I think this will happen when the opposition leaders unite. That's when there will be a plan that people will believe in, like last year at the elections ...

Three and a half percent is needed to change everything—three and a half percent of the active population. I think today 500 people will be enough for us who can change something. The square will no longer be there.

- And what will happen? Palace coup?

- Maybe a palace coup. There must be a "black swan," some event that will change everything. We see that now Belarusians have the effect of a frog in boiling water. That is, we have already adapted.

You walk across Minsk, or from the window, you see that they are driving. And you get used to living among the patrols. Empty streets on Sundays with patrols. And people continue to live.

In the provinces, everyone was defeated: Lida, Gomel, Zhlobin. Who left - who is sitting. Where there were strikes, everything is quiet now. I have a niece under criminal law. She has children. She says: "What should I do - go to lie under the tanks?"

People are ready to go out, but there is no program. And this is not plan x. It should be a program. And I want to disappoint - flowers will not lift anyone else.

There should be a series of actions, which will go a day, two, three, a week. Partisan, loud, which will inspire the majority and disorganize the security forces. Which will raise people in all parts of Belarus at the same time.

And these actions should start a strike to prevent people from going to work. Whoever is afraid - let him stay at home. But the square, I think, will be gone.
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