Being more than a politician. Interview with Sergei Gaidukevich
Sergei Gaidukevich – the leader of Liberal Democratic Party and candidate in 2015 elections for the office of the president of Belarus.
You worked as a military adviser in Iraq. What do you think about Saddam Hussein and his fate?
First, I did not take part in any military actions. We were not the only ones there at that time. Several French were staying in the same hotel, selling military equipment.
Speaking of Hussein – there is a right dictum: sooner or later, every dictatorship collapses.
Your interests include also literature and you write poems. Could you tell us which books and writers have influenced you the most?
I read mostly Balzac, Kuprin, Sand. Though I really read a lot. I was a type of an intellectual, writing poems, really good poems. I graduated from a music school, played guitar, piano. I composed as well… I was prepared very well from the intellectual point of view to work as the minister in Vyacheslav Kebich’ government [The first Prime Minister of Belarus, serving from 1991 until 1994 – ed.note]). After that a lot of people thought I would run for a presidency in Belarus, however I did not. My wife did not approve…
And now she does?
Not really, but she accepted it.
Do you consider yourself rather a man of culture or a man of politics?
Politicians are not able to exist without culture. It is really hard to watch Tatsiana Karatkevich who represents nothing. This is a reason why my son took part in a TV debate instead me. I wanted to show that even he can win with such candidates. If you do not believe it – just watch this debate… Politicians should be more than that, they should be intellectuals.
Are there other intellectuals among presidential candidates except from you?
It is the interesting question… What does it mean to be an intellectual? It means to know how to explain your views and ideas using easy language without mistakes. I would not like to abuse other candidates. If you compared public speeches of the candidates, you would not need to ask. Among all of them, only President Lukashenko is a competition for me.
Tatsiana Karatkevich as well? Svetlana Alexievich – the Nobel Literature Prize winner – said that she would not vote in elections but if she did, she would support her. In her opinion Karatkevich is an intellectual and only she is able to give clear and intelligible speeches.
Svetlana Aleksievich is very positive and talented person. As a Belarusian I am so proud that she got The Nobel Prize. I do not want to talk about intellectual potential of Tatsiana Karatkevich. As a gentleman I feel myself not the right person to judge this young women who achieves nothing at the age of 38. What I can say - she is just a candidate of Andrey Dmitrev…
Referring to your previous opinion it seems natural to ask who is a more charismatic person: you or the incumbent president?
Well, it depends. Few years ago some specialists said that in Belarus there are just three charismatic persons: Lukashenko, Gaidukevich and Pazniak. Pazniak left the country a couple of years ago. He made a decision to live abroad. But I believe there are still three. The third person has participated in the last TV debate [Gaidukevich’s son – ed.note] and I think he is a hope for those people who have lost faith in political changes in Belarus.
Could you name three weaknesses of the current government?First of all: development of civil society, political parties… and there is no actions in direction of rebuild of any political elites.
Do you mean the pressure from the government or authorities ?
Authorities do not take any steps to build a Belarusian civil society.
Furthermore, I really dislike the economic situation of our country. We are not able to live like that anymore. The government has to support private initiatives and market economy… Unfortunately nowadays we are living as if we never moved from the Soviet Union…
Why do you have so low electoral support?
Who said that?
Well, we have numbers…
You should remember that in 2010 no one gained as many votes as I… Sannikau, Milinkievich and others… no one. But of course, you have to say Gaidukevich is the worst because he is a Lukashenko man. I have never been his man. It is so hard to be a strong man in this country.
The problem is we are a party with structures and future. The European Union will have to talk with people just like me. With people who want changes in Belarus and who care about more than only the European grants.
Right now the political path of Karatkevich is similar to mine. Her staff decided to use peaceful slogan and an non-violent approach towards change, in contrast to accusation of supporting and cooperation with authorities and KGB! They understood that after 20 years of boycotts there is no place for this kind of politics in our country and for this kind of politicians.
You do not have the best PR in opposition media.
It is a lie and every lie always ends the same, in a failure. That is why in last 20 years a lot of opposition journalists joined my side and they started write well about both me and my party. Of course you can ask why, and it is only one answer: because I am right. They understood that politics is not only about making a noise or shouting at each other. The most important is to come out to the people. It is important to look for support from people, not only from European grants. Lech Wałęsa became a president because he understood this, and that is why people loved him. He spoke with people.
Do you perceive yourself as a Belarusian Wałęsa?
I would not say yes. It is a different time and a different place. We have different expectations and problems. I only show you his example because in Belarus we can achieve the same things that he did.