MINSK, 13 November (BelTA) – I instructed to work out a mechanism of working with expelled students, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said in an interview with Belarusian and foreign political observers on 13 November, BelTA has learned.
During the interview, Dmitry Bochkov, deputy chairman of the board of the Second National TV channel, noted that young people are the most active force in the protests. "Obviously, there is a fight for our youth. How do we win this fight?” He asked the head of state, explaining: "I mean not a political fight, but fight in general. Today they are young people, and tomorrow they are the foundation of the state."
Aleksandr Lukashenko replied that this is really the biggest problem. This is the first time Belarus has faced such a situation. “I am speaking about students, not youth in general. Everything is clear with working youth: a person who works at a factory thinks differently. Everything is clear with rural youth; they work in fields and farms and they think differently. I know this because I meet with them often,” the president noted.
“Young people living in cities are somewhat different in general. There are students and high school students. These are already adult people. Students are not just the future, they are the future elite of our society, and I am aware of this. It is the first time that we have encountered this problem. We do not have relevant experience. I come to the conclusion that our forward-leaning youth, especially students, should realize this themselves. We have to help them with this but they still have to learn this the hard way. If they don't learn it now, if we drive it deep, there's going to be an abscess that will break one day. You can't drive anything anywhere, cheat, lie: you sweep the problem under the rag and and it will come out of there at the most inconvenient moment,” the head of state noted.
“I want Belarusian people to determine their fate themselves. In my opinion, even if they make a mistake, they must do it. First of all, this pertains to our youth,” he stressed.
According to the president, when he was a student he realized that if you don't take care of your own fate, no one will do it for you. Today young people take life easier. “Our young people believe that they can do nothing and still drive a Mercedes. Young smart people from families with modest means see their peers driving a Bentley or a BMW and become envious. They want to have the same,” the head of state said. “Then politicians tell them that under their leadership they will drive at a least a Mercedes. And they believe this. Then they will be given some money. All of that has an impact on their minds and molds a young person.”
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, when student riots started, he was familiar with the structure of this protest, the number of participants. The president emphasized that in in fact there were few such people, and the overwhelming majority of students just wanted to get education, to live and work normally.
The president recalled that some time ago the government was considering a decision on the educational institutions as they train too many specialists. However, the government decided to preserve the system and to give everybody an opportunity to get higher education. “I have created all that and I now think why they are fighting against me. They know that all this would have never existed without me. Now we would have 25,000 students instead of 100,000. What shall we do with them? And I decided to act in a manly way: if you don't want to study, them serve in the army or find a job,” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he had received many letters from students' parents who ask to reinstate their children to universities, if possible. “Parents badly want their children to get university education. This is why so many of them have written to me. We ‘kicked out' those 300 people – but I would not want to say they were bad. They demonstrated fine academic performance, some are gifted. We risk losing them. They will go to Poland and work there – but no one wants them there. If they come back to their senses, they might yet become decent people,” the president noted.
The head of state said that he had instructed appropriate officials to develop a relevant mechanism: revisit this issue and find out more about those dropouts. “I have this ‘under guarantees' practice that has been used before: we even released protesters under guarantees. I have insisted on submitting to the parliament a draft law on pardon on bail, under guarantees, under obligation. I have the right to pardon people. I used this right a lot during recent events, especially in late August – early September: when parents, the youth union, trade unions stood bail for people. This has yielded results,” he noted.
“We are setting up commissions for every university. They will include university representatives and officials responsible for universities. They will discuss these requests from parents and students,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “We do not want a fight in the society. For the sake of peace and to prevent escalation of the situation, we will use various methods to make people understand us and come to terms with us. However, do not forget: the law is harsh but it is the law. Please, understand: the future of the country is at stake. If the authorities start showing weakness, indulge and condone law violators, this will immediately lead to predictable consequences,” he added.