BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS

FIGHT FOR FREEDOM - BELARUS

September 01, 2020 Dana Lewis Season 2 Episode 5
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
FIGHT FOR FREEDOM - BELARUS
Chapters
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
FIGHT FOR FREEDOM - BELARUS
Sep 01, 2020 Season 2 Episode 5
Dana Lewis

Alexander Lukashenko struggles to cling to power after he lost fraudulent and fake elections.   He's jailed and tortured political opponents. Some have fled the Country. Others take to the streets weekly now in massive demonstrations demanding Lukashenko step down.   While Russia's Putin worries the same could happen in Russia, keeps watch and threatens to intervene to prop up Lukashenko. 

In this edition of BACK STORY Host Dana Lewis talks to Belarus journalist Hanna Liubakova, of the dangers of covering the demonstrations and what will become of Lukashenko?

Show Notes Transcript

Alexander Lukashenko struggles to cling to power after he lost fraudulent and fake elections.   He's jailed and tortured political opponents. Some have fled the Country. Others take to the streets weekly now in massive demonstrations demanding Lukashenko step down.   While Russia's Putin worries the same could happen in Russia, keeps watch and threatens to intervene to prop up Lukashenko. 

In this edition of BACK STORY Host Dana Lewis talks to Belarus journalist Hanna Liubakova, of the dangers of covering the demonstrations and what will become of Lukashenko?

Dana Lewis / Host Back Story podcast :

It seems like time is on his side and carrying his rifle and staying the only way that he's ever going to leave the presidency is to be killed.

hanna liubakova/ belarus journalist :

Yes. Well, that's not a , um, well position of someone who is ready for dialogue . That's, that's pretty true.

Dana Lewis / Host Back Story podcast :

Hello everyone. And welcome to another edition of backstory. I'm Dana Lewis, freedom and democracy are in Bellaruse Alexander Lucas, Shanko , who has been in power since 1994, refuses to leave last elections were by any measure fake . And fortunately , Luca Shanka was a thug, turned to security forces on his own people, jailing thousands and torturing men . If you're watching, it's a dramatic Seesaw battle between a dictator and tens of thousands of people who take to the streets weekly , demanding, he stepped down who will win, will Russia intervene to protect their pawn. Fearful the same could happen to Putin who also runs sham elections and referendums, or will the people of Belarus triumph in this edition of backstory, just one interview with a courageous journalist who while Lucas Shanko was tried to arrest reporters and shut down the internet and communications, she managed to get the word out and risks her own personal safety to keep telling us what's happening. All right , Hannah Luba Koba is a freelance journalist normally in Belarus , but for now she's not saying where her location is and how are you doing?

hanna liubakova/ belarus journalist :

I'm fine. Thank you. Still free. Um, so I thank you for, for asking.

Dana Lewis / Host Back Story podcast :

I mean, I have to say I've been following you on Twitter since this started a few weeks ago. Um, it is very dangerous for journalists. Will you tell us what it's like for people trying to get word out, trying to cover the news they're on and what is happening to journalists? A lot of them have been arrested.

hanna liubakova/ belarus journalist :

Yes, indeed . That's true. Um, well the attack on , on , on press freedom happens in different levels. Firstly, it's kind of dangerous to , to be, to report from the street. Firstly, because journalists have been targeted by security forces. Um, literally even though they have , um, like bests and signs some on themselves, there was a moment , uh , especially , um, during the first week after the protest, after the kind of the protest started , um , when we aware staying as a journalist and we were targeted a bit of rubber bullets and tear gas. So despite having all this marks on ourselves , um, and obviously is just dangerous, it was gender dangerous at least to drive. And , uh, you know, there were some grenades , um, exploded near , uh , near the car. So , um, so it was physically dangerous. Also war journalists are being detained regularly, regularly. Um, few days ago, 50 journalists were detained for just reporting on the street and they were clearly doing their job despite that they were taken to a , to a police station. Some of them were held for , uh, for, for the whole night. Some of them were released quite soon. Um , and after that, there was this situation when , uh, basically 17 journalists who work for foreign media outlets, such as the BBC radio for Europe , um, AFB P where revolt revoked their press accreditation. So some of them who were not Belarusians , uh , they were Russians, they had to flee the country. They had to kind of the way of forest to , to leave the country. Um, and , um, yeah, so kind of this attack to happen in different levels. Well, local journalists have been detained. Um, many of them are off find and it's like this situation , um, is not , um, unique. It's been happening for years. It's been always like that. Now it's just kind of , um, the level of it is , is much worse.

Dana Lewis / Host Back Story podcast :

Tell me what's going on. I mean, there were some amazing images this weekend out of, out of Minsk and it seems that Lucas Shenko is in a standoff with people he's not willing to step down. He's not willing to go at the same time. People are keeping up this momentum. I mean, they're demanding that he leaves ,

hanna liubakova/ belarus journalist :

Yes, people have many reasons to protest. Um, obviously now it's police brutality. It's this injustice. They feel their demand , um, um, free and fair election. They demand , uh , those responsible for brutality, for people being injured for people, people being detained, they demand justice. They demand this , um, atrocious being investigated at the same time. The authorities are totally ignoring these demands. Uh, Alexander Lukashenko is not ready for, for dialogue , even though there is a special body institution created to offer negotiations to offer dialogue , it's called the coordinating council. It includes , um, yes, some people are arrested. Some key members of the coordinating council , uh , have been arrested such as one hook of a cover , uh, who is a trustee of [inaudible] potential candidate. And also , uh , this , this kind of very famous representative of, of the workers in [inaudible] . So these two people have been arrested and that's what the authorities are doing. So firstly, they are ignoring the demands of , of the people. They are ignoring their position , um, uh , kind of this institution, this continental coordinating council demands, but they also trying to decapitate this movement. Uh , they are currently arresting , um, leaders, potential leaders of the protest, kind of most active participants. Um, that's one thing and other things. So they arresting also leaders of the coordinating council and also leaders of the striking committees across the country.

Dana Lewis / Host Back Story podcast :

No, it seems like, it seems like time is on his side. He is going to chip away, chip away at press. He is going to chip away at his political opposition. He's going to try to tire people out and he is just going to stay in there . Um, you know, with his photographs of him carrying his rifle and saying the only way that he's ever going to leave the presidency is to be killed.

hanna liubakova/ belarus journalist :

Yes. Well, that's not a , um, well position of someone who is ready for dialogue . That's, that's pretty true , um, time, you know, what it might work , um, um, and like give me a help him, but it doesn't have to, people have many reasons to protest, right? And some of these reasons we will not disappear. Um, we are talking about injustice now we're talking about police brutality. Uh, but talking about the lack of free and fair election, but at the same time, well , the economic reasons will not disappear. It will be even worse. The economic crisis East coming, it was predicted , um, already because of the pandemic and because of this kind of weakening economy in general stagnating economy that , that , um , kind of, of the situation that exists in the lotteries , but also because, well , um, the lack of stability brought so many , um, kind of reasons for , for this crisis to , to kind of increase, right? The , the rival has fallen already entered the reason financial crisis. People cannot buy , um, foreign currency. Um, so it's been, it will be worsening. And which means that there will be more reasons for people to come up to the streets in the future, even though now they might be tired or they will be, they will get tired. However, at the same time, well , we don't really see , um, signs that people are tired today. There is a there , the hat , the hat , there has been an immense demonstration and immense Raleigh again, despite , uh , 140 people where were arrested today, people still came out to the streets in thousands. There were more than 150,000 people who , who at least who came up to the stage ,

Dana Lewis / Host Back Story podcast :

What do you think Lucas Shenko will do? I mean, a lot of people think some of his political opposition dating back years from now think that he's not mentally stable , uh, that he will get more desperate and more dangerous.

hanna liubakova/ belarus journalist :

I think the , the Russ science that he is ready well, he will definitely stick to , um, to his possession to power as much as he could. Um, we've already seen some of the most youth police violence that, that never happened before. At least of this extent. Um, it obviously provoked a lot of anger, a lot of fear as well. Um, people went up ready , well, they said peaceful protestors , and it was complete then justified that this is just, this was too extensive. Like this was not , um, there were no reasons, well , there are never reasons for this, but like, well, people are, people are peaceful. So , um, now he's saying about poutine and his police, that that can come and suppress the protestors . I think, well , he might be ready to introduce, to do as much as he can to introduce like as many ways, as many ideas, how to suppress the protest and how to stay power. Um, I think now he's definitely desperate. He has seen that he lost support, popular support of, well, let's say the majority of people, that's how at least people feel they feel that they are the majority now. And , um , well, what he's relying on is , is a security.

Dana Lewis / Host Back Story podcast :

How do you, how do people view president Putin and Russia and the pledge to support Lucas ? Shenko

hanna liubakova/ belarus journalist :

If anything, I think that people who were , um, not naive, but who had some impressions that protein might be, I dunno , but leader or Russia is a good neighbor. I think they lost this , uh, this kind of impression already because since Putin , um, accepted the , uh, he said that the result of the election was , was , was , was fine, was , was free and fair. I think it kind of made, made a lot of people here in ballroom angry. Um, and , um, they definitely , um, well, but when we sound's wanted to be independent, right. Uh, and they, they wanted to preserve good connections with Russia and the West, but with Russia as well, but they don't want to be part of Russia. There were numerous sociological , um, posts , uh, research that actually , uh , said about that. So , um, at the same time now, since well, Putin promised to send , uh , police , um , and law enforcement to Belrose , I think , uh , well, many people kind of got disappointed those, I mean, who , who were , um, who had some kind of good brushings about Rochelle Putin and , uh , well, I kind of keep hearing this, that the people who, who were supportive of put off his side , that they, they said that,

Dana Lewis / Host Back Story podcast :

Why do you think the security forces are sticking with president X, president Lucas Shanko , because really he didn't win the election properly. So a lot of the European union doesn't recognize him as a democratically elected president, but I mean , he is still in office. Um, why do you think his security forces are supporting him and where will the crack come ? I mean, when will they leave him?

hanna liubakova/ belarus journalist :

It's a very good question, but they might leave him. Um, let's wait until this economic crisis until this K until we understand the scale of it, of what is coming. Um, I think, well, perhaps not security forces, but definitely parts of the elite of the nomenclature Torah might actually give another thought about Lucas shank and about the support that they give him. Uh, once this are going to crisis comes as the security forces . Well , um, they don't really have any alternative . Um, they are so much into this now they're , they're , they're rare crimes and Luca Shanka kind of promised to, or at least he showed that he's not, he will support them. Like he 300 , uh , members of security forces were awarded after, after this protests . Um, and after this police brutality, so kind of location care keeps showing that he is on their side, as long as they are on his side. And since there were crimes ,

Dana Lewis / Host Back Story podcast :

Right , he needs them. That's the last line of defense.

hanna liubakova/ belarus journalist :

Absolutely. And also let's remember that local chamber has built this system for, for the past 26 years and already, you know, this people kind of have seen so much propaganda. They are really kind of brainwashed a lot of them. Um, so, so it's, it's a well functioning system in this regard. And , um, well there are , they also have a lot of privileges. They have the , you know, apartments and so on. So the rock kind of many incentives for them to stay with Luca shank at the moment.

Dana Lewis / Host Back Story podcast :

My last question is about you because I'm worried about you and all the journalists that are covering this, but you , you have a profile on social media. Um , and you have been relentless in , in, in covering this and getting the word out. How are you looking after yourself? You worried?

hanna liubakova/ belarus journalist :

Um, yes. Uh, I am definitely wired . Uh, firstly , um, as I mentioned, well, it's just dangerous to work on the street to report from report from the street. Um, well there were situations when I couldn't , um, sleep at home or use my phone or , um, I have to, I don't know, keep a low profile or different, absolutely different things. I obviously , um, I I'm taking care about my physical security, but also kind of , um, this digital security of course and all that. So, well , um, well, many things , you know, we all have to take care about , uh , as you know, during the school work right about the rules at the moment,

Dana Lewis / Host Back Story podcast :

Hannah , you know, a lot of people criticize journalists today, but uh, I mean, I've been in not quite the same situation, but you know, it is with great respect that I tell you, you know, stay safe and it's very kind of you to take the time to talk to , to us. And I think you're doing a great mission and work for people in Bellaruse . Thank you so much.

Speaker 3:

That's this edition of backstory. We have two other podcasts you're invited to listen to one Belarus and the struggle for freedom. We have just posted another podcast on racial tensions in America and proposals to change laws, which police use as shields from civil prosecutions. Please subscribe and share backstory. We really appreciate your loyalty. I'm Dana Lewis and I'll talk to you again soon .