Tuesday 21 May 2024 | 00:29

Uladzimir Matskevich: We shouldn’t pretend that only the elite is aware of the tyranny of the police

12.04.2016  |  Society   |  Aliaksei Jurych,  EuroBelarus
Uladzimir Matskevich: We shouldn’t pretend that only the elite is aware of the tyranny of the police photo by euroradio.fm

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.

Other news section «Society»

What actually the State List of Historical and Cultural Values gives to Belarusan Heritage Sites?
What actually the State List of Historical and Cultural Values gives to Belarusan Heritage Sites?
The Belarus Committee of ICOMOS announces the collection of cases on the effectiveness of the State List of Historical and Cultural Values as a tool of the safeguarding the cultural monuments.
The right to heritage according to the standards of the Faro Convention: is it possible in Belarus?
The right to heritage according to the standards of the Faro Convention: is it possible in Belarus?
On March 27-28, the Belarus ICOMOS and the EuroBelarus held an online expert workshop on expanding opportunities for community participation in the governance of historical and cultural heritage.
“It is our big joint work”
“It is our big joint work”
It is impossible to change life in cities just in three years (the timeline of the “Agenda 50” campaign implementation). But changing the structure of relationships in local communities is possible.
The “Agenda 50” campaign was finalised by the Regional Development Forum
The “Agenda 50” campaign was finalised by the Regional Development Forum
The Forum was devoted not so much to the outputs as to the challenges and prospects after the creation and signing of local agendas.
Mikhail Matskevich: How to create a local agenda and make it a problem solving tool
Mikhail Matskevich: How to create a local agenda and make it a problem solving tool
To achieve changes, you need to be interested in them and stop pinning all hopes on the state.
“If a person cannot leave the apartment, he or she does not need an accessible Opera House”
“If a person cannot leave the apartment, he or she does not need an accessible Opera House”
In Stoubcy, they talked about universal design and conducted pilot monitoring of two urban sites accessibility.
Local agenda in Valożyn: mission accomplished
Local agenda in Valożyn: mission accomplished
"Specificity is different, but the priority is general." In Valożyn, a local strategy for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was signed.
How Ščučyn was proceeding towards the solution of problems of people with disabilities
How Ščučyn was proceeding towards the solution of problems of people with disabilities
The campaign "Agenda 50" was summed up in Ščučyn, and a local action plan for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was signed there.
A program to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities was designed in Stolin
A program to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities was designed in Stolin
The regional center has become the second city in Belarus where the local plan for the implementation of the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was signed.
“Agenda 50” in Belarus: from strategies to implementation
“Agenda 50” in Belarus: from strategies to implementation
Representatives of the campaign “Agenda 50” from five pilot cities discussed achievements in creating local agendas for implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In Stoubcy, a local action plan for the implementation of the Convention was signed
In Stoubcy, a local action plan for the implementation of the Convention was signed
It is noteworthy that out of the five pilot cities, Stoubcy was the last to join the campaign “Agenda 50”, but the first one to complete the preparation of the local agenda.
The monitoring of accessibility was presented in Stolin
The monitoring of accessibility was presented in Stolin
On May 28, the city hosted a presentation of the results of the project "Equal to Equal" which was dedicated to monitoring the barrier-free environment in the city.
“They think if the legs don’t function, neither functions the head.”
“They think if the legs don’t function, neither functions the head.”
In Babruysk, wheelchair users are fighting discrimination.
The real work of the Convention depends on all interested communities and organizations
The real work of the Convention depends on all interested communities and organizations
What results has the campaign "Agenda 50" given, what helps to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the regions?
The Convention is a fight against fears, barriers and stigmata
The Convention is a fight against fears, barriers and stigmata
Experts in Valožyn have determined that the quality of people’s life depends on their awareness.
The Convention should become a "living tool”, rather than remaining just an ordinary document
The Convention should become a "living tool”, rather than remaining just an ordinary document
On March 3, members of the campaign "Agenda 50" from different Belarusian cities met in Minsk. The campaign is aimed at the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The main thing is one’s personal motivation for full active life (PHOTOS)
The main thing is one’s personal motivation for full active life (PHOTOS)
There are being implemented three projects under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities campaign in the city of Babruysk.
One man does not make a team, but united we are able to do a lot
One man does not make a team, but united we are able to do a lot
In Ščučyn, people with disabilities learned to be leaders and to advocate their interests.
Barrier-free environment – it is not a ramp, but a means of independence (PHOTOS)
Barrier-free environment – it is not a ramp, but a means of independence (PHOTOS)
In Stolin, social organizations and local authorities are implementing a project aimed at independent living of persons with disabilities, and creating local agenda for the district.
Polish experts: We say “equality” and you say “inclusion”
Polish experts: We say “equality” and you say “inclusion”
Will creation of local agendas be an effective tool in ensuring rights of persons with disabilities in Belarus, just as it was in Poland?
Gintautas Mažeikis: The relation of political field and arena in the framework of information war

In his report, philosopher Gintautas Mažeikis discusses several concepts that have been a part of the European social and philosophical thought for quite a time.

“It is our big joint work”

It is impossible to change life in cities just in three years (the timeline of the “Agenda 50” campaign implementation). But changing the structure of relationships in local communities is possible.

Shhh! Belarus Wants You to Think It’s Turning Over a New Leaf

Minsk’s muddled media clampdown could jeopardize warming of relations with the West.

Mikhail Matskevich: How to create a local agenda and make it a problem solving tool

To achieve changes, you need to be interested in them and stop pinning all hopes on the state.