— Three years ago, you were a candidate at the election in Polatsk urban constituency, and now in Navapolatsk urban constituency. What similar and what different problems do these neighbouring cities have?
— Polatsk and Navapolatsk are so close but so different. When I ran for deputy from Polatsk three years ago, the residents focused more on the fact that, having such history and being located in the centre of Europe, this city could not only be a tourist mecca, but also a historical capital of Belarus. However, it lost a true city status and turned into an ordinary district centre. Both Polatsk and Navapolatsk residents are concerned about such issues as employment, urban infrastructure, and condition of the roads. Healthcare and education have a lot of issues.
Navapolatsk is different by a high proportion of youth. And, the youth say that the city is boring; there are very few opportunities for pastime, namely cultural pastime, not various cheap bars with low-quality Russian pop music. People with children are concerned about kindergartens and a children’s polyclinic.
In general, healthcare is a big issue for our cities; we are short of specialists, and even district therapists and paediatricians. It is difficult to get to a specialized doctor such as ENT or ophthalmologist. They say we have free healthcare; in effect, one has to take paid coupons and wait for the possibility to visit a doctor for a week or more. Moreover, paid and free visits are sometimes very different.
Navapolatsk is a city where the environment is issue number one. However, it’s impossible today to find out the real data on the emissions from factories.
— Construction of a highway in the residential part of the city is actively discussed in Navapolatsk right now. In your opinion, how should a deputy act in such a situation?
— I am following this situation very closely. I don’t live in that district. However, my relatives, friends, and acquaintances live there. So, I can see how they are fighting and defending their right to influence and control the things the city authorities do. Unfortunately, the city authorities don’t listen to them. This issue could be solved if the city authorities faced the residents and if we had true local self-government. A local council deputy is a person elected by the townspeople. So, this person must solve the issues along with them and protect the interests of those who elected him or her.
— There are some issues in Navapolatsk which are discussed constantly, such as the environment, for example. Can you name a few non-obvious issues which require immediate solution?
— For example, the riverwalk. This is a city where there is such a beautiful river with grand history — however, there are no comfortable paths, no lights, and no places for rest along it. This is especially true of the part of the city after the bridge.
I had a lot of communication with women over the past year. What are they concerned with in our city? It is the fact that sometimes they have to return back from work late in the evening. Buses run only on central streets here, and to reach home they sometimes need to cross so many places where there is no light and no decent pavement. This both wears down shoes and creates dangerous situations for women.
— Would you, please, share your impressions of the election campaign: How do citizens treat you as a candidate for deputy, and what do they ask you?
— This campaign goes unnoticed for most people. People are tired not to be listened to; they are tired their needs aren’t noticed. They don’t believe in elections. They don’t believe anything depends on their decision. There’s huge disappointment among people. They treat the election campaign largely negatively.
However, I felt such support during this campaign which I didn’t even expect. But, after all, Navapolatsk is my hometown. My relatives, friends, and acquaintances live here. Many people know me. I’m grateful to everyone who supports me, who helps me during this campaign. I love you all! You are the best!
— Why do you think no other candidate except you agreed to participate in the debate?
— This is a question for my opponents, not me. I cannot be responsible for their decisions or influence them. Maybe, they just didn’t have anything to say to the city residents.