12/01/2020, 13.17
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Maria Kolesnikova: we will win the marathon of protests

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Instead of large demonstrations, the tactic of the “March of the neighbours” has been launched: social media chat groups unite entire blocks of flats and apartment buildings to “take a walk” in the park or go to church. This allows for fewer arrests and less violence. Kolesnikova talks about her imprisonment and the prospects for the protest: "The relationship of trust not only towards the president, but towards the whole state system, has broken down." "We are not an opposition; we are the Belarusian people".

Moscow (AsiaNews) - In Belarus, the uninterrupted four months of protests continues, after the disputed elections of 9 August. Since last week, the unrest has taken on the form of "backyard protests", avoiding large gatherings (also due to the danger of Covid-19 infection) and escaping the repression of the Omon: the tactic seems to be working.

On Sunday 29 November, what has been called the "March of the neighbours" reported a much lower number of arrests and violence, as it was impossible for the police to distribute themselves in all the buildings in the capital.

The coordination of the parades is achieved with the opening of online chat groups for each condominium or groups of blocks of flats, through which the neighbours are invited to "take a walk" in the park, to the shops or shopping centres, or maybe go together to pray in some church. the groups avoid the city centre and the areas most manned by the police. The newspaper Nasha Niva calculated on Sunday at least 60 "walks among neighbours", in which the white-red-white flags of free Belarus are flown.

The main heroine of the popular protest remains Maria Kolesnikova, one of the women in the electoral campaign of the "exiled president" Svetlana Tikhanovskaja. Kolesnikova has been in solitary confinement for three months, after having ripped up her passport while secret service agents attempted to "deport" her to Ukraine.

While waiting for the trial, in which she could be sentenced for threats to national security, Maria was able to answer, through her lawyer, the questions of the journalists of the Dožd channel, describing the conditions of her detention, "all things considered normal for a post- Soviet nation; there are three of us in a cell for six, so we're better off than many other inmates, even though everyone smokes here and I'm the only non-smoker ".

According to Kolesnikova, “the protest will not stop; at most it will turn into various other initiatives. The violence only reinforces the moods in society against power, in a profound and irreversible way ... the relationship of trust not only towards the president, but towards the whole state system, has been broken, and this is much more dangerous than street demonstrations ". Speaking of the group in power around Lukashenko, the dissident talks about a “small group of street swindlers, I became more and more convinced of this after talking to them. I saw their absolute lack of professionalism, the inability to take on real responsibilities and respond to the challenge of real opponents ".

Without sign of the confinement affecting her morale, Maria Kolesnikova says she is certain "that the end of the dictatorship will happen as always, it can only be its downfall ... we are not an opposition, we are the Belarusian people, who have chosen another candidate as president. The worst mistake would be to divide people, we must live together in this country, and however difficult it is, we must respond to evil with good".

The final appeal from her detention cell to all Belarusians is "to continue the work of our common victory, each with their own possibilities, in prison, in freedom, in Minsk, in the province or abroad ... it is a marathon, and whoever has the greatest endurance will win. We cannot lose, because in reality we have already won”.

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