Stanislav Shushkevich was the leader of one of the three countries that signed the Agreement on the Establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States on December 8, 1991, which stated the termination of the existence of the USSR. He was also the first leader of Belarus after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But unlike Russia and Ukraine, where the institution of the presidency already existed, Belarus was a parliamentary republic. During the years when Shushkevich was in power in Belarus, the white-red-white flag was revived - one of the historical national symbols, which is now often associated with the opposition movement.
- How do you assess the situation in Belarus after the last presidential elections?
- First of all, I believe that as a result of the presidential elections, the president lost with a large percentage. People are outraged. At night (according to estimates, including satellite), 300 thousand people came out to protest. And the SOBR did not rush at them, because there were too many of them. Gassed, exploded with noise grenades. We have a disgrace. Here is my understanding of the situation.
- What do you think about the detention of journalists?
- These are the actions of our government, which avoids fair coverage of what is happening in Belarus. These are the links of the same chain. The political circus, the arrest of potential leaders - all this was done beforehand. Latin Americans can envy. When they oppose Maduro, it's all little things in life. We have it in a more perfect form - the Europeanized Latin American so-called democracy. But in reality it is a dictatorship of a terrible kind, vile and worthless.
- What do you think about Lukashenka's opponent Svetlana Tikhanovskaya?
- Clever woman. She intercepted the flag from her husband's hands. Her husband is a wonderful interviewer. He interviewed me and many others. There were no antics on his part, especially hooligan ones. He was just dangerous. He is dangerous because he covered the events correctly. And he needed to be arrested. In general, Tikhanovskaya is our Joan of Arc. A wonderful, intelligent woman.
- Not so long ago, a couple of weeks ago, Leonid Kravchuk was appointed head of the Ukrainian delegation to the trilateral contact group on resolving the conflict in Donbass. Would you like to act as a peacemaker in Belarus?
- I can not. Kravchuk is a statesman of Ukraine, and the situation there is completely different. There he can speak at the state level. Because there is still some gap in the opinion of the population. But we don't. Our average wages are three and a half times lower, and the purchasing power situation is worse than in neighboring Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. This is to bring the state - Belarus, a hard-working country!
- What is your forecast - how will events in Belarus develop in the coming days?
- I do not know. That 300 thousand people were on their feet last night, in the dead of night - I did not expect this. Therefore, I do not make predictions. I'm an old-fashioned person. And here is a new technology.
- Soon August 19th. During the events of the 1991 putsch, you demanded the urgent convocation of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Belarus. Why was it necessary to convene it?
- Then it was clear that an anti-democratic putsch was taking place. I knew too well who Yanaev was. And since he was at the head of the putsch, nothing good could be expected there.
Therefore, I immediately ran and demanded from Dementey to convene the Supreme Council in order to make a decision that we do not support this putsch. But Dementeus supported him personally. Therefore, he then lost power.
- Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus Stanislav Shushkevich at a press conference, 1991
- © Dmitry Donskoy / RIA Novosti
- Immediately after the putsch, you headed the parliament of Belarus. And under your leadership, the law "On granting the status of a constitutional law to the Declaration of the Supreme Soviet of the Byelorussian SSR on the state sovereignty of the Byelorussian SSR" was adopted. You led the country to independence. Are you happy with the result?
- I am pleased that people understood that this could be. But the fact is that the forces that acted in indecent ways (these are the same Yanaevites, only more vile and more vile) appeared in Belarus and destroyed worthy politicians. I do not want to say that I have always been delighted with the Potter. But I have always been delighted with Zakharenko. They were destroyed. They acted against them in such methods, about which I thought it was simply impossible.
I did not allow such an approach to reality when lies reigned. Therefore, there were many omissions. But, in the end, everyone understands that Belarus has been under our historical flag for more than two years. And we tried to revive Belarusianness. By the way, not in spite of being Russian, mind you. Because we have never opposed Russia, against Russians.
- Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus Stanislav Shushkevich (center) arrived in Kazakhstan to sign the protocol to the Agreement on the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States. 1991
- © Yuri Ivanov / RIA Novosti
- You are called a moderate nationalist. This is true? What does this mean for you?
- I believe that a nationalist is a person who is proud of his nation and tries to make it better. And a Nazi is a person who humiliates other nations so that his own is better. So, many Belarusian patriots, Belarusian nationalists are credited with Nazi qualities that they do not have. This is a big mistake. And moderation ... I must always know the subject well. And then I am not moderate, but confident. Now, I'm sure I'm doing the right thing.
- You put your signature in Belovezhskaya Pushcha as the chairman of the BSSR Supreme Soviet. And in this capacity you led the country after the collapse of the Soviet Union. How did Belarus become presidential from a parliamentary republic?
- This is a long conversation. I wrote about this in my book. The essence here is something like this. The old party members, the old party nomenklatura, realizing that it was bad to fight me head-on, pretended to be my great friends.
Including Vyacheslav Frantsevich Kebich, prime minister. I considered him my great friend. An intelligent person who knows how to work, manage, the former director of the plant. And he secretly did everything to humiliate me, remove me. And I lost this game. I hide nothing. But if there were further normal democratic elections, everything would be restored. And democracy was over when I was expelled. That's the whole story - very simple.
- © Yuri Ivanov / RIA Novosti
- For Belarus, in your opinion, what form of government is the most acceptable?
- You see, what's the matter: of course, in order to act quickly and well, the presidential uniform is better. But you see - you can run into a president who doesn't think about anything else but how to stay president as long as possible. Parliamentary - it is more viscous. Because there must be a public opinion. But she is certainly better. Therefore, it is up to the people to decide what form of government should be. If it is presidential, then the term should be limited. With us, it was unlimited.
- And the last question is not related to politics, purely personal. Which Belarusian musicians do you like, whom do you listen to?
- I always admire musicians, I have a terrible envy when I see that people play well. I envy them so much, I love them so much that this is just a terrible thing! I love our Anisimov, a wonderful conductor. But I, unfortunately, do not have time ... I am even ashamed in front of Anisimov that I do not attend his concerts. This is a wonderful conductor. There are a lot of good performers. Of course, we do not have pop performers of such a level as in Russia. But we have our own Pavarotti. I find our ballet absolutely charming, but when I was in Russia, I strove to be at the Bolshoi Theater. And you know, I am proud that I heard Pavarotti in Austria. When Donizetti's "Love Potion" was played there during my stay, I was invited to the presidential box to hear it. I am a person who loves it, but who is unable to get in touch with it. I am very sorry that I do not have time for this, even now.
- What are you doing now? What is your hobby?
- I do not like exercises, I do not like sports exercises - I like to do some physical work so that the result is visible. Now I make all sorts of handicrafts from old material in my country house. I have a wonderful instrument, electromechanical. I brought a lot from the States, from Europe, and now everything can be found here. I like to work with my hands. But, unfortunately, my strength is already failing me. If my son does not help me, it is very difficult for me to work.
- What is your favorite craft? What are you proud of?
- My favorite craft is my country house. From a concrete mixer (made in Kiev, by the way), from a 50-liter concrete mixer, I built a house. Outside it is concrete, and inside it is wooden. Inside you are like in a wooden house, but outside it is well protected. And in three levels. Attic, ground floor and basement, where there is a fireplace and where you can sit in the cool even in summer.
- You said your son is helping you. Children, grandchildren - are they all in Belarus?
- I have a son and daughter. They are in Belarus. And one granddaughter. She has now graduated in Warsaw. I myself am a doctor of two of the most prestigious universities in Warsaw. My granddaughter was the winner of four international biology Olympiads. And Lukashenko issued her a certificate that she could enter any university in Belarus with an increased scholarship in the first year without exams. Because he didn't know she was my granddaughter. She has the surname Glinnik.
- Does she do biology?
- You see, modern biology is not exactly what we think. If earlier she was engaged in the cultivation of plants on saline soils (and achieved some success in this), now she is engaged in nutrition. That is, proper nutrition. She herself went to this specialty in a private academy, she herself earns money for this and she herself pays for her studies. I am proud that my granddaughter is the heir to my approach to life.