Stanislav Shushkevich is a Belarusian scientist and politician who was the first head of state of independent Belarus in 1991-1994s.
He signed the declaration on the dissolution of the USSR together with Russia’s Boris Yeltsin and Ukraine’s Leonid Kravchuk. Shushkevich was the leader of the Belarusian Social Democratic Assembly party from 1998 up until two months ago.
On the eve of the 84th anniversary of one of the key figures in modern Belarusian politics, TUT.BY spoke with Stanislav Shushkevich about the past and present of Belarus.
Best quotes from the big interview – on BelarusFeed.
- Belarus gained first actual sovereignty in 1991. Before that, it was a colony of the Russian Empire for almost 200 years. The colony essentially, it was given grand names – the union of brotherly peoples, unbreakable union of free republics, and the like. Before 1991, Russia had never acknowledged the independence of Belarus documentally.
- Should someone tell me at the end of November 1991 that the USSR would stop to legally exist in a month, I would call that person a weirdo.
- Today we have a president who cares about the state and its citizens only in words, but in real life can only dominate, not competently manage. He is, in fact, an anti-Belarus president. He does not appreciate representatives of Belarusian culture, does not initiate the revival of the Belarusian national traditions or oppose the ongoing forced Russification.
- Russia propaganda is very pushy here now, and its motto is simple: all the good things come from Russia, all the bad things – from the West.
- “The Russian World” (the social totality associated with the Russian culture – note BelarusFeed) is strong here [in Belarus].
In the present-day situation, Belarus does not and can not have the political opposition
- Russian-speaking ignorance still wins today. The state has to have the program for the revival of the Belarusian language. Not the anti-Russian program, as some interpret it, by no means, for the great Russian culture is a thing to be proud of. But ignorant people treat the Belarusian national culture as a threat.
- For example, Stepan Bandera. On the one hand, he is a patriot of Ukraine; on the other hand, I consider making Bandera posthumously a hero of Ukraine a big mistake of my friend Viktor Yushchenko. There are historical figures that would better be forgotten as symbols of national dignity.
About political opposition
- In the present-day situation, Belarus does not and can not have the political opposition as they understand it in Europe. It is more logical to call the protesters neo-dissidents.
- I think the opposition (political opposition in Belarus – note BelarusFeed) has two problems. The first one, they have little to no experience of state governance. The second one, albeit having one common goal – to change the current regime by constitutional means – cannot agree among themselves and unite to reach that goal. It is a paradox, but there are more leaders than followers among them.
About the new government
- Having studied the work of Syarhey Rumas (Prime Minister of Belarus since 18 August 2018 – note BelarusFeed) I figured he is a sensible and very skilled and competent person. But his biggest flaw is obedience. They can toss him at any moment – he is an ace now, but may become a six in the administration system.
- I don’t consider the communist past a big vice with our system of upbringing.
About Belarusians and politics
- Belarusians have never asked for politicians, and they never will. They ask for “a better living”.
- The parasite law is the serfdom legalized.
Translated by BelarusFeed. Original interview in Russian here.