“The prevailing political situation in Belarus is to evolve. We understand that it has not kept up with the times”, Andrei Savinykh, Chairperson of the Standing Commission on International Affairs of the National Assembly of Belarus, said today addressing PACE Political Affairs Committee during a hearing on the situation in Belarus following the Presidential election.
“Certain changes need to be introduced and that is something we are working on. We are prepared to engage in that work. We are prepared to engage in dialogue about these changes, but this has to be done in full accordance with the law. The dialogue cannot take place under pressure from street guerrilla violence. It must be rather be designed to ensure appropriate socio-economic development in the country and a positive political progress”, he stated.
Mr Savinykh said that the Presidential campaign was characterized by great emotional intensity. “Unfortunately, we must note that the activities of certain candidates were designed to intensify social tension. There was a lot of disinformation and psychological manipulation. Unfortunately, after the actual voting day these emotions went beyond the limitation of civilised discourses and descended into street violence”, he added.
The Belarusians authorities, he added, have information to the extent that the protests were coordinated from abroad through social networks. “The protests that took place on the voting day and right after turned violent very quickly. Under these exceptional circumstances the main task of the forces of law and order was to reduce tension”. Now is time, he said, to learn the right lessons from these situations “to make sure that it will be possible to all citizens to peacefully express their political views”.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, former Belarusian presidential candidate, did also participate in the meeting, as well as PACE President Rik Daems, who recently called for “an all-inclusive national political process” in the country to ensure a peaceful and democratic transition.
Belarus applied to join the Council of Europe in 1993 but its parliament’s special guest status with the Assembly – regarded as the first step towards membership – was suspended in 1997. However since then the Assembly has continued to hold an ongoing dialogue with Belarusian authorities, parliamentarians and civil society, and frequently invites members of the National Assembly of Belarus, as well as members of the extra-parliamentary opposition, to attend meetings of its committees.