SLUTSK DISTRICT, 23 October (BelTA) – I am not in favor a large-scale rally in Minsk which is being organized by the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FTUB) in association with other public organizations, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko told the media on 23 October, BelTA has learned.
Aleksandr Lukashenko explained that the rally is expected to bring together about 250,000-300,000 from all over the country. Thousands of buses and dozens of trains would be necessary to bring all these people to Minsk. Besides, Minsk resident would also come. The entire city would be crowded a result. Ensuring security is the primary concern for the president.
“Today I have called the prime minister and told him: Roman Aleksandrovich [Golovchenko]: gather people, governors and others, consult with each other. We do not need to bring people to Minsk,” the head of state said. “People are coming to Minsk to support Batka, but they also want to see Batka. How? I thought I would address a meeting in Oktyabrskaya Square that can hold, well, 15,000 people.”
“The main thing is that we will not be able to ensure the security of people. This is a primary concern. We are already getting this information. I am not afraid, but I am concerned. One explosion somewhere in the crowd, and people will start stampeding like it happened at Nemiga,” the Belarusian leader said.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, many elderly people and veterans are also planning to attend the event. Their security and provision of medical aid, if necessary, are also the priority.
“Meanwhile protesters are still on the streets. We cannot use all police forces to ensure security… Who will control the other part of the city?” the Belarusian leader wondered.
“Having considered all these issues, I called the prime minster and said that I had unpleasant news for him. They have already planned out their routes and other things. I told him that we needed to cancel the event. Just imagine, 250,000 people.. This will be too many. The main thing is the mood with which people will leave Minsk,” the head of state said.
Besides, there is a coronavirus factor, Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Elderly people want to participate, we cannot keep them home. They can catch the disease. And then we will have even more coronavirus cases compared to the tally in the countries around us.”
“Therefore, today I think that we should not gather people together. No need to. Why should we act like them [participants of the protests]?” the Belarusian leader wondered. “Of course, I am very grateful to our public organizations and trade unions for this initiative. But in the last 3 to 4 days, while all this was taking shape, I have decided that we cannot risk our people.”
According to the president, this wave was launched after last Sunday when the radicalization of the protest movement started. “A wave was launched by people. People are tired. They realized what we can lose. It is good that they felt it because of these protests, not war, just like many post-Soviet countries,” the head of state said. “We want peace and accord. It is good. We understood it without a war. Having realized what they could lose, people started saying that they wanted to come, to show that they were many.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned Tajikistan as an example, where the absolute majority of citizens supported acting President Emomali Rahmon, although certain forces tried to stir up the country. “But no one reacted. Because they lost from 200,000 to 300,000 people in the mid-1990s, I remember that. Half a million people died [during the civil war]. Back then no one spoke about color revolutions, He [Emomali Rahmon] fought hard to enter Dushanbe, he told me what was happening.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested holding a mass event for all interested parties in the spring when the weather will be warmer. “I promise that in the spring or in the summer we will bring people together in various places which will be available (it is a drawback that we rarely bring people together like that). We will organize beautiful events where you will come with your children and have a rest. And you will be satisfied. If we do it right now, we can get an adverse effect at least.”
“But I am not in favor of this large-scale rally. Of course, I am the one who should make a decision and be responsible. I will not decide to bring people to Minsk,” the Belarusian leader concluded.