MINSK, 20 October (BelTA) – I am not holding onto power, with my hands blue with strain, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he approved the appointment of new rectors of state universities, BelTA has learned.
“As for the Belarusian president, he is not holding on to the power with hands blue with strain. I have spoken about this many times. It's not about me. It's about you: what will happen to you without me. Maybe I overestimate my role here. But I look at yesterday's veterans [yesterday's rally of veterans of law enforcement agencies], at you. You will live in this country. What's going to happen? Do you think they will spare us/you. You saw them? Will they spare you? They'll tear you to pieces,” the Belarusian leader said.
The head of state also spoke about the protests taking place in the capital on Sundays: "Things will be put in order in Minsk on Sundays. They [participants of unauthorized protests] take to streets mostly on Sundays. Well they showed what they're worth. You saw it, too. Now you need to explain things to everyone, warn about consequences once. Do not try to calm the troubled waters. You explain things once and they should go decide whether they go back to studies or not? You, the rector, have to be the first to name the people who do not want to attend university. Since they are not willing, they will not be persuaded. Some will be drafted to the army, others will take up jobs or something. It's their choice. Especially now.”
The president believes that protests are not the place for students, especially students of arts universities. "These are future intelligentsia. They will show us in theaters and other platforms what the society will look like tomorrow. This position needs to be communicated to students. We are not fighting dissenting opinion, God forbid. Points of view should be different. There will always be dissenters. They will either discuss things in private or in the open. We are not fighting against it, we are fighting against breaking the law. They're breaking the law. For some, it's fun. Don't persuade anyone. You should explain the rules: if they want to go to school, they are welcome. If not, they better leave universities by themselves.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the times are not easy. "It won't get any easier for us. We will gather at the Belarusian People's Congress and I will tell you all the details, explain everything that is happening and what will happen and so on. We have to survive this time," he said. It will be worse if we go through the scenario of Ukraine, or even scarier, the scenario of Karabakh. We see what is happening today. This is not the inter-ethnic conflict only. It is also about the economy, people's lives. If you saw what was going on in Armenia... Smartest people live there and see what situation they got into. Therefore, everything comes from people's minds, from the situation that is developing in a particular state. God forbid we have to go through this.”