Visit to Khatyn Memorial Complex

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Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko studied the progress to renovate the Khatyn Memorial Complex on 23 September.

“We decided in the spring that we would put Khatyn in order. It’s bad that you didn’t suggest doing this earlier. Yet, since you did not come up with such a proposal, we’ll have to do everything fast. But I see that if we distribute the work in the right way, we will manage to complete the project in time. The main thing is that the museum is commissioned in time,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

The head of state studied the progress to refurbish the memorial complex. “Everything should be done in an orderly way, for people,” the President emphasized.

He also instructed to take care of the adjacent territory and roads. “You can drive through, but the roads should be better,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko gave an instruction to assist people who want to take part in the refurbishment project, who want to plant trees or bush on the premises. “It is necessary to humanize this area and make everyone involved,” the head of state suggested.

In his opinion, it is important to preserve the original appearance of the memorial complex. He believes that extravagant renovation is not necessary. There was a village on this place, so everything should be simple and humble, the President emphasized.

An old village church is also being restored on the territory of the complex. It is recreated according to the surviving descriptions. However, the church will be erected in another site as there is an old cemetery in the place where the church originally stood.

During the second construction stage the memorials Cemetery of Villages and Trees of Life will be repaired as well as concrete fences around burial sites and urns with soil. These works are also scheduled for 2022. The third stage provides for repairing lighting along the central walkway and sound equipment of the memorial.

Br5.1 million will be allocated for the project from the regional budget and funds collected during the nationwide subbotnik.

A new building of the museum One In Three is under construction in Khatyn. It will be a single-floor building with the total area of 1,000m2 where visitors will move in a circle across six exhibition halls.

The President laid flowers at the Unconquered Man monument and the Eternal Flame at the Cemetery of Villages memorial. There is also a renovation going on here. “Thank you. Thank you for doing a good thing,” the head of state said addressing the construction workers.

After the ceremony the President had an informal conversation with reporters which lasted nearly 2.5 hours. The head of state answered about a dozen questions.

When answering one of the quastions, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that opponents are playing up the mobilization theme and saying that Belarus might declare mobilization modeled on the draft in Russia. “There will be no mobilization. We are not going to mobilize people. This is a lie,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

At the same time, the President emphasized that Belarus would definitely respond to possible threats and attempts to commit acts of terrorism. To this end, various exercises are conducted on a regular basis, including with the participation of the people’s militia, so that people know what they should do and get the necessary military skills.

“We are conducting a different kind of drills and simultaneously, roughly speaking, announce this mobilization somewhere within a designated area. In other words, we draft those who are in the draft registration system. And they should be deployed to designated areas and they should know these areas across the length and breadth just in case something happens. Are we going to travel all over the country (there are thousands of these units) and tell them what they should defend? They should already know what they will defend. These are bridges, power supply infrastructure, enterprises. Even a bakery. These are the places they need to be familiar with and they need to be taught this,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the country has been closely studying modern military operations, adjusting the army and making it more mobile for several years already.

The head of state assured that Belarus will not join any war. “We will fight only when we have to defend our home, our land,” he stressed.

The head of state once again drew attention to the fact that an information war had been unleashed in the world. In this situation one should not wait but respond, the Belarusian leader is convinced. “We have to ... We are Belarusians. If something happens, we will look around first so as not to offend anyone. This is a good quality, but not for today. If they start to attack, we have to respond,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

“We will be improving [our information policy]. We must stand up and defend our home,” he added.

However, under no circumstances can fake news be used in this struggle, the head of state stressed. After all, sooner or later the truth will come out. “There should be no open lies on the screen. Only truth and facts must be at the basis,” the President emphasized.

The President also believes that it is wrong to think that the confrontation in the information field has completely shifted into the Internet space. “One should not think that everything is decided on the Internet today, but still it is silly not to use it,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. In his words, television also plays an important role and is in demand in the Belarusian society. The President admitted that he himself regularly watches TV channels. He added at the same time that it was necessary to improve and modernize, including the use of new channels of communication and public information, such as Telegram, for instance. In this regard, the head of state said that he expects proposals and initiatives from journalists and expert community.

Speaking about the participantion in the SCO summit in Samarkand, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus expects to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in a year.

“Everyone has done this [underwent the procedure of becoming an SCO member] except for the founders. The next meeting will take place in India, and I have set a task for the government and the ministry of foreign affairs in the first place to do everything necessary within a year (the organization will not meet earlier than this),” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

According to the regulations on the admission of new members to the SCO, the applicant state must accede to the international treaties operating in the organization (there are about 40 of them) and make the necessary changes in the national law. For example, it took Iran more than a year and a half to do so. “This country went the same way that we have to go. We will do it within a year. As soon as we adopt everything that has been worked out in this organization, they will gather this information and submit it to the heads of state for consideration at a meeting in Delhi. They will make a decision, just as they did on Iran. If everything is okay, we become a member. This is the path everyone has to take before joining the organization,” the President said.

“Countries are joining the organization en masse, and good for us that we decided to cast our lot with the SCO before all of them,” the President noted. “I think that it was the right move. This will benefit us,” the President added.

“What we need to do in the SCO is to make it more agile. Once we set out on this journey, we need to keep going. We are progressing smoothly and steadily. However, now it is time to move quickly. We need to give a chance to progressive humanity. We should seize the moment. We should give a chance to people, to many countries. Unless we slow down, the SCO has a great future ahead,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

At the meeting with mass media representatives Aleksandr Lukashenko said that matters worth billions of U.S. dollars were addressed during the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the SCO summit in Smarkand.

“We addressed matters worth billions of dollars, matters concerning cutting-edge technologies during the meeting with China alone,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state reminded that the matter of production of Belarusian multiple-launch rocket systems with the current designation Polonez had been initially raised during a summit like that. China supported Belarus on the matter later on. “We are now making everything,” he stated.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit he met with many heads of state. Some of the meetings were official and some were not covered by television. “I discussed matters with Azerbaijan and with Turks, with Recep Erdogan,” he said. “When you are in this frenzied cauldron, you feel the nerve of the entire planet. It is very important for a President after all. I have to integrate Belarus into this system of world relations.”

While talking to reporters, Aleksandr Lukashenko explained in detail how relations with China are organized. The head of state stressed there is no senior partner and no junior partner in relations between Belarus and China. “So delicate and considerate. The Chinese are great in this regard,” he noted.

He mentioned that during the meeting with China President Xi Jinping at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand they discussed the possibility of organizing another meeting some time later in order to check how instructions and arrangements made on the sidelines of the summit are being realized.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that it is customary to give distinctions, observe a certain ritual and the reception protocol during visits of heads of state to China. “It is a custom over there. It is their style of respect,” he said.

However, the President stressed that the most important thing is to have a routine meeting and talk, look into how instructions in various spheres are being fulfilled – starting with joint ventures and ending with finance.

The head of state stressed he is not afraid of China’s “expansion”: “God willing! I’ve been asking them for a long time to expand here. I tell them to come and cooperate! And they come to us.”

The President pointed out that Belarus and China had already advanced their cooperation to great lengths, including in high-tech areas, in missile production. The creation of the Belarusian National Biotechnology Corporation is a fresh example. China shared cutting-edge and unique technologies as part of the project.

While talking to journalists, the President said that Belarus and Russia are planning to resolve the issue of cabotage transportation at the level of heads of state in the near future. “I am set to meet with the Russian President in the near future. This is one of the most important issues [cabotage transportation]. I think we will solve it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Speakig about the situation in neighboring Poland, the head of state remarked that this country has not been largely affected by the sanctions-fuelled standoff of the European Union against Russia and Belarus. Moreover, the United States of America is helping Poland. However, the Polish government sometimes aggravates relations with some countries with its own actions. Demanding reparations from Germany is the latest example. “They are free to demand them. Maybe they are indeed owed reparations. But I wonder then what damage they did to us before 1939,” he noted. “How are they going to compensate for that? You have to be smart. Before demanding a compensation from Germans you have to consider that you owe something to someone, too. It is an example of a hair-brained and short-sighted policy.”

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, these actions have been prompted by forthcoming elections in Poland. “They will drink this cup all the way like we did in 2020 with their nudging. We will leave them alone but their people will call them to account. This is why the policy will change. Poland’s current government’s policy is alien to the Polish people,” the President is convinced. “The people will reject this policy. But if Poles go totally crazy and start a little war somewhere, it will be the end of the country. But I don’t think it will come to that because the Polish nation will not allow it.”

At the meeting with journalists the head of state spoke about democracy in the West. “The West is diverse. There is something in the West that we need to adopt for sure. The Germans accuse us of ‘dictatorship’ and stuff like that. The dictatorship Germany has, in the sense of order, is nowhere to be found. I remember Soros members asking me: “You, Mr. President, have come to power young. What would you like to borrow from others?”. I mentioned Germany and Sweden then. As far as I saw the situation at the time, including the Swedish social system, their care for the elderly, and Germany with its iron order. Germany's dictatorship is incomparable! Now they have Scholz and others. What kind of leaders are they? They have no true politics, no agenda. It is horrible what is going on in Germany today,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President added that the West is far from being as ideal as it is portrayed. “We thought there was democracy, English law and courts there. There is no law there. Those who pay get what they want. The law works up to a certain time there. They will seize your assets, like Russia’s, and forget what the law and private property is,” the head of state said.

At the meeting with journalists Aleksandr Lukashenko also spoke about amnesty and pardon.

“I do not bargain people. I have never done this. I am always ready to do the utmost to protect people. There is no bargaining here and there cannot be. I have never done such things and will never do. So there will be no bargaining here. I will not bargain even if there is some profit behind it. I will never resort to such things. They have to answer for what they did, because if there is permissiveness, it will happen again. But where we can make some kind of compromise, we need to do it. This is our society after all. They will come out sooner or later anyway,” the head of state said as he commented on the comparison of the upcoming amnesty and pardons with “political bargaining with the West”.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed once again: if a compromise is possible, it should be used, but there should be no forgiveness for real criminals. “We cannot be ‘inflexible’, like taking a stand and not seeing anyone. After all, there were people who were simply deluded,” the President said.

“But those who must stay in jail will stay there. I do not bargain people's fates. I am not accustomed to it. Do not take what is not yours. Do not offend others. Fairness and justice are above all,” the head of state concluded.

A lot of so-called fugitive oppositionists would like to return to Belarus but many are afraid of facing prosecution upon arrival.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Many queries have been received. It is clear that a percentage of scoundrels may return as well. Converted individuals, too. We can identify spies. We don’t want terrorist cells here. I have not decided yet on how we can sort them out.”

He stressed: “We have to be very careful. We shouldn’t push away anyone. People’s lives and their fates are at stake. Case by case. There will be more and more of them. But we have to live through this period.”

The President remarked that the return of these people to Belarus might be advantageous in a sense but an individualized approach is needed. “It is necessary to sort them. We need normal people. Those, who committed a crime, will not ask to come back. Most likely people, who have come to understand that life in a foreign land is bad, [are asking to be let back into Belarus]. We shouldn’t push them away,” he said.

The head of state told reporters that this year’s crop harvest is unprecedented. Belarus has enough food and actively exports it, too.

Speaking about the fulfillment of instructions concerning agriculture and the organization of the harvesting campaign in the regions, Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked: “There will be no threat [to food security] if [Minsk Oblast Governor] Aleksandr Genrikhovich [Turchin] does what I want them to do.”

The President went on saying: “The crop harvest is unprecedented. We’ve never had one that large. We did a bit of work and we reaped the results.” But the harvesting of some crops is still in progress or is about to end.

Aleksandr Lukashenko was told that the total harvest of cereals including maize and rapeseed will be about 11.2 million tonnes. The head of state warned against too much zeal for the sake of bigger figures and a pretty picture. It may be wiser to harvest maize not for the sake of grain but for the sake of silage in order to provide the animal husbandry industry with additional forage.

As far as food is concerned, Belarus produces all the foods, particularly strategic ones such as salt, sugar, and bread. Aleksandr Lukashenko spoke in favor of eating common food, locally grown foods.

“A cheeseburger or a hamburger… Never ever. Not in my house. The younger son and the older sons haven’t either. They are not accustomed to that,” Aleksandr Lukashenko shared a personal example.

“As for people somewhere in the world starving, we are ready to share. We can earn over $8 billion this year by selling food alone. In other words, we can use our soil to earn money,” he concluded.

The President stressed that it is now necessary to put as much of the grown products into warehouses as possible in order to satisfy the demand of retailers and export demand in between seasons.

Speaking about patruioitic education, Aoleksandr Lukashenko stressed that it is necessary to take good care of one’s own, necessary to instill love for the country and the motherland from childhood.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “You and I are here today and are doing it. Did we have to invest considerable funds in order to take all of it [the reconstruction of the complex] to a higher level somehow? But we can see that all of it is falling apart. And it is necessary to put the memorial complex into order. What for? So that we could bring our children and grandchildren here. So that they would know our country’s history and could know how many lives were sacrificed for it, how many innocent people died. So that they would appreciate it and keep it in their memory, translate it onto the country.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that little effort was put into it in the past in the belief that things would work out of their own accord. The head of state stressed the importance of correct education of children from a young age. Among other things he reminded about problems using a small Minsk-based private school as an example. The school was mentioned during a recent meeting of the President with State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus Aleksandr Volfovich. During the meeting the President gave instructions to cleanse the education system.

“We’d better spend money now on educating these extra [school students], who hang about in some private schools, instead of having to reeducate them later on. Because these things start in kindergartens and schools. It is necessary to use such examples. So many kids died here [in the village of Khatyn, Logoisk District, Minsk Oblast during World War Two]. What were they guilty of?! They wanted to live as much as we do. But they had to burn. What for? This is why it is necessary to take care of our own to avoid a fiery death in these barns. This is why it is necessary to preserve it instead of demolishing monuments like crazy people in neighboring countries do,” he stressed.

In particular, Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that hundreds of thousands of Soviet soldiers died to liberate Poland, including many Belarusians. But now Polish authorities stomp all over their memory.