What reaction the philosopher has expected to his open letter to the Minister of Internal Affairs and what reaction he has received?
An open letter of the philosopher and methodologist Uladzimir Matskevich to the Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich caused a strong reaction in the society. The stand of Uladzimir Matskevich, whom the court tried to find guilty of "participating in an unauthorized event" based on false testimony of the policemen, has united both his supporters and opponents. People are indignant with the tyranny of police and partiality of courts.
The reaction of Belarusians to the incident gave much food for thought. Uladzimir Matskevich shared the conclusions that he made from the discussion with the "EuroBelarus” Information Service.
- Did you expect such a violent reaction to the open letter to the Minister of Internal Affairs Ihar Shunevich?
- I'm a quite experienced person, so I expected and anticipated a similar reaction. And I got what I wanted.
I can shortly formulate the message of the address, which I addressed not only to the Minister of Internal Affairs, but also to the wider society. My address couldn’t, of course, reach the whole society, but I believe that all independent media got it and political circles are discussing it. We are not talking about ordinary people, Lukashenka’s electorate, and those who hold power and are engaged in ideology. I would suggest that a quarter of Belarusians is to some extent familiar with the address.
So, what I wanted to say, is that the witnesses lie, the courts are completely sham, the system of law enforcement bodies has rotted through, and it’s a fact not only for me or for the Minister of Internal Affairs, but for almost all Belarus’ citizens. There’s no need to pretend that only the elite is aware of the tyranny of the police or that the "secret" will remain within the Interior Ministry or within the court system. This is the fact everyone knows, and it's scary.
But apart from fear, the shame should be present, too. This situation is familiar to not only Belarusians, but also abroad: to politicians, delegations, which are holding both national and local negotiations (Belarusian police should maintain relations with the German police and police in other European countries and the USA). Since diplomatic etiquette doesn’t allow to voice such things, I want every Belarusian official, from the president to the ministers to realize that when they meet with the high-ranking foreign diplomats, shake hands, and look each other eye everyone knows what Belarusian police is. And every citizen of Belarus knows that, too. That's all I wanted to say.
- Since the address was directed to the Minister of Internal Affairs, do you expect anything from Shunevich apart from his admission of the "mistake"?
- I'm not really expecting the official response. Knowing how the system of citizens’ addresses works, the easiest solution for the Interior Ministry would be to give a formal reply and shut the proceedings within the system: punish the policemen who made a mistake (they were supposed to know what is allowed to falsify and whom they might "face"). I think this is the main thing that now worries the Interior Ministry and the Minister; the same applies to the prosecutor's office, which I asked to give a legal assessment of what happened. This is the usual practice of state structures – to give a formal reply and pretend that they follow the law without changing anything.
- Did the reaction of the society upset or please you? By and large, both your supporters and your opponents showed solidarity with your point of view.
- I only said what is familiar to almost everyone. Everyone knows about it, and everyone talks about it; but not everyone and not always gets a chance to give such publicity to the case and make it so public.
I haven’t opened anyone's eyes. In a country where there is no publicity and where state-run media hide the truth, the voice of common sense broke through the pressurized media system. In a civilized country such emergencies would have occupied the front pages.
- The opposition often explains its disunity with the lack of a unifying idea. But even such small step as an appeal to the Interior Minister led to the unity of a significant part of the population. Can it be that the opposition is just looking for solidarity in the wrong place?
- I would add: the opposition is looking in the wrong place, not the right things, and with the wrong people. People, including me, have ideas, but opposition leaders ignore them; they are working in accordance with some models, outdated schemes, and raise topics that aren’t topical in our time. The opposition is the hostage of stereotyped ideas – social democratic, liberal, communist ...
But the society has changed a long time ago. Opposition leaders don’t want to understand this and don’t want to lose their positions. The response to my letter from different people from a variety of media followed, but the recognized opposition leaders haven’t said a word. The fame of our leaders is on the verge of a statistical error, so they have absolutely no interest in new ideas, patterns, and personalities.
- To influence people, one should first listen to them and hear them, shouldn’t we?
- It is impossible to ignore them. It’s not enough to hear; one also needs to understand who says, how it is said, what is said and what people want. I don’t mean to say that the opposition leaders are unaware of what people talk about and what people want. People always discuss their problems at the meetings with opposition leaders, who always turn away from the truth. In 90% of cases when the opposition leaders meet with voters, people criticize the opposition, while the leaders ignore criticism. I have felt this disdain from my own experience. After we lost the possible Lukashenka’s impeachment in 1996, I kept saying that if we altogether don’t change the tactics and strategy of political activity, we might lose forever. I was ignored back then and now the opposition ignores all the others who say exactly the same thing.
At the same time there is a narrow circle of the people who support the same ideas, the same approaches as the opposition leaders: they prefer to listen to the narrow circle of their supporters and pretend that this is the electorate.
Lukashenka acts pretty mush in the same way. A lot of complaints are addressed to him; KGB, the Interior Ministry, and sociologists report him about the moods of the people. But what Lukashenka does? He prefers to pretend that the people’s voice is voiced in the statements of marginal groups of veterans and ideologists. Marginal groups have always been, are, and will be present in the society; Lukashenka gives them a chance to speak, to appear in the media, while the voice of the majority, of the society, of the population is artificially suppressed and ignored.
The problem lies not in listening; the problem lies in the understanding.