“We aimed at uniting as many people as possible, not involved in political parties, for the public, civil work. These people came to protest in the streets after the election of 2006. In fact, the disagreement with the rigged election was expressed in the streets by the citizens, of whom 90% weren’t members of any political parties or NGOs”, said Milinkevich to BelaPAN.
According to him, “Surely, we didn’t manage to accomplish everything that we wanted” during the five years of the MFF’s activity. “There were more people in the streets [during the protests in 2010] than the one thousand of our organisation’s members. Yet, we managed to do a lot,” noted Milinkevich.
Milinkevich reminded that the MFF’s organisers began their activity with human rights advocacy work. “I think we managed to do much to protect the people that took to the streets in 2006. The Kalinouski Programme appeared out of this work. It continues to function today, as well,” he said. Milinkevich stressed that this programme of assistance for students is the largest of such programmes in the European Union. “Virtually, everyone who is repressed by the authorities in universities and persecuted for their political or civil opposition has the opportunity to begin or continue their studies in Poland,” he said.
According to Milinkevich, the MFF’s primary purpose is “to bring Belarus as closer to Europe as possible, to promote the emergence of pro-European sentiments in the country.” “For this sake, we have performed educational and informative programmes such as The European Clubs. We have such clubs in every region’s chief city. The clubs’ meetings are attended, among others, by many students who are discussing the new ways of Belarus’s development, how the transformation in the new EU member countries was performed, what successes and failures they had, etc.” said Milinkevich.
As Milinkevich noted, “We all are usually talking about the fact that the current regime is bad, that it does something wrong, that there is Lukashenka’s dictatorship. But we also wanted to make our positive contribution, to dream about the future Belarus, when holding meeting with experts in the regions. Within the framework of The People’s Programme, we offer our own solutions to various problems in economy, finance, health, and various other fields.”
Milinkevich said that the MFF has tried to support “small local initiatives”, too. “We have been looking for people who could solve a specific social problem in smaller towns, and have helped people to self-organise themselves. Developing and self-organising the civil society and Europeanising Belarus are our major lines of activity now,” he said.
Milinkevich noted that the MFF members wanted to “meet within a small group and to make a picnic, to talk with activists from the regions about their successes and failures, and to sum up the results” at a recreation base near Minsk on May 20. However, he said, they “were refused to hold this meeting, and were told that it wasn’t allowed neither that day, nor the next day, not the next week.” As a result, said Milinkevich, an extended meeting of the organisation’s council will take place in the MFF’s office.