Vladimir Matskevich, National Civil Society Platform

What was important in the life of civil society in Belarus over the last year?

In 2013, Belarus' civil society was not something radically new, for compared to previous years. It is worth noting a few events that are rather, are a continuation of the trends of recent years.

Firstly, the amplification products of civil society in recent years has resistance to it both by the state and by the competing social and political institutions, particularly the opposition parties. It’s a passive resistance, and it’s expressing in removing from contact and communication. For example, last year the National Civil Society Platform to put more efforts to consolidate political forces, as soon as these efforts have been effective, political actors found it possible to go further without National Platform excluding it from the communication.

Secondly, there were no effects of all attempts of the National Platform of GO, and a number of individual NGOs to intensify European dialogue on the modernization of Belarus initiated by the European Commission. Civil society and national platforms particular were not considered  full participants and stakeholders in the process.

Third, under pressure from civil society and the European Union the Belarusian authorities all are beginning to talk about the public hearings on several critical issues but NGOs strongly isolated from these hearings, which in turn result in simulation.

Probably the most important event this year was the fact that the National Platform GO managed to avoid a split and survive, albeit in a weakened form.

What can activists and human rights activists in other countries to help change the situation in Belarus?

I think that the activity of human rights defenders and the other actors of civil society in other countries is quite high. Any important event in Belarus is not without attention. But our problems lie in the country. Change the situation from the outside now it is impossible. The help of our friends in other countries may be required only in the case of aggravation of the situation in the country, in the event of sharp contradictions or conflicts, and of course, at the beginning of real change.

What gives you the strength to continue work personally in the civilian sector?

Actually, the existence, albeit weak, civil society and solidarity gives me strength. The main thing is to refrain from acts of despair, but to continue the systematic and thorough job. Alas, acts of desperation more noticeable and more than a systematic and systematic work. These acts of repression ends, plantings, a flagrant violation of rights, so they are written about in the press, they tighten the attention .And the forces needed to everyday routine work. And well, when such work is seen to be appreciated, recognized.