Ambassador Belarus wants reforms but not by this housewife

The Belarusian Ambassador Andrei Yeudachenka makes no secret of it: My country urgently needs far-reaching reforms on all fronts, economic, political and social

But the demonstrators and the three women leading the resistance in his homeland are not the solution, in his view. I do not know this Mrs Tichanovskaya, I have never met her and she is probably a good housewife. But my country needs a different leader, one with a lot of experience. Otherwise, I foresee civil war.

Fled or imprisoned

There has been unrest in Belarus for weeks. For more than a month now, the streets of the capital, Minsk, have been filled almost daily with sometimes as many as tens of thousands of demonstrators.

President Aleksandr Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years, won the elections again on 9 August, according to the official results. However, the opposition, as well as the European Union and the United States, are convinced that he won only through blatant fraud.

The demonstrators see Lukashenkos challenger in the elections, Svetlana Tichanovskaya, as the real winner. Together with two other women, Maria Kolesnikova and Veronika Tsepkalo, she was at the centre of the opposition. Tichanovskaya and Tsepkalo have fled abroad, and Kolesnikova is in prison

Thousands of opposition members and other demonstrators have been arrested in recent weeks. A great deal of violence has been used against demonstrators in an attempt to suppress protests.

According to the ambassador, the violence is intolerable. The riot police responsible for it will have to be held to account. But not the entire people of Belarus should be held to account for that violence. You will see that the level of violence is already much lower

Spaghetti between Russia and the EU

Yeudachenka explains that his country is in a dilemma between ally Russia on the one hand and the European Union on the other. We are 95% economically dependent on Russia. That cannot change. It is quite easy to invent a new flag or anthem for our country, but relations with Russia are the most difficult part of the changes we would like to see

He hopes for support and advice from the Netherlands and the EU. We can learn from your experience and it is my task to establish close ties in the European Union

What the ambassador does not see as a shining example is the outcome of the revolution in Ukraine in 2014, where there was still fighting with pro-Russian separatists in the east this year. The political, economic and social developments there will hopefully be spared us

According to the Ambassador, a new, reformed future for his country is also possible with the incumbent President Lukashenko, even though the demonstrators have been screaming for his departure for a month now. We will have to involve him in a dialogue that will have to involve many other parties

And if it turns out that the majority of the Belarussian population wants the President gone, surely? Then I obey the people