Statkevich: We will oppose illegal referendum

The leader of the Belarusian National Congress, ex-political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich spoke with about his political plans for the near future. First of all, he focuses his attention on the opposition to the referendum that the authorities are preparing.

Last week, seven applicants from seven organizations, including the BPF Party, Movement For Freedom and others appealed to the Minsk City Executive Committee for permission to rally and march on April 26. On this day the Belarusian opposition traditionally holds the Charnobylski Shlyakh. This year the organizers want to gather at 18:00 on the steps of the Academy of Sciences in Minsk and from there go to the Charnobyl Chapel in the Friendship of Peoples Park, where a requiem meeting will be held. There is still no answer from the city authorities.

We asked Mikalai Statkevich whether he and his associcates plan to join the Charnobylski Shlyakh-2018.

“For ten years now, no one has allowed people to get together at the Academy of Sciences, the maximum was a gathering near the Oktyabr movie theater. Under the stairs, they will be saying something, and on top, they will be watched by the police. To agree to such conditions means not to respect yourself much. But let’s wait for the answer of the Minsk City Executive Committee, and then we will comment on the format,” Statkevich said.

According to him, the main political event, which they should work with is a referendum.

“We will oppose an illegal referendum. If the date is known before April 26, and the issues are put to vote, we will use it for protest, including the Charnobylski Shlyakh,” he said.

Statkevich does not refuse to hold a protest against the referendum on May 1 as well, but he does not disclose the details yet.

In an interview with, Statkevich listed “the main signs that a referendum is being prepared.”

“First, there is an artificial warming up of the economy by injecting money into some enterprises. Secondly, we see the discrediting of the protest by the hands of those who are in favor of improving the regime. They also held a large-scale campaign to discredit the protest march on March 25. The authorities also checked the media for loyalty, especially those that work in the Belarusian segment of the Internet. Clearing the information field was a success. I mean the cases when non-state media broadcast insulting statements of these people to supporters of the rally,” said Statkevich.

Information on the referendum about the changes in the Constitution has repeatedly appeared in the media over the past month. The chairman of the Central Electoral Commission Lidziya Yarmoshyna and the Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei spoke about it. According to Yarmoshyna, the preparation can take only 70 days, and it will be held “using extra-budgetary funds.” In turn, in an interview with Euronews, the head of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry confirmed that the authorities are thinking about a possible amendment of the Constitution. Specific issues to be put to vote have not yet been reported.

It is known that as early as 2016, the LDP party proposed holding a referendum on extending the presidential term from 5 to 7 years. There is no official confirmation that the authorities approved this idea yet.

On April 24, Lukashenka will address the National Assembly. Experts believe that it is during this speech that the head of state will announce the date of the referendum and questions.

Katsyaryna Andreyeva,