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Tatiana Zelko. “Time for action”
2012 has just started. What would you say about the year 2011 and what do you expect from the year 2012? We addressed these questions to Tatiana Zelko, the leader of Our Generation.

- Tatsiana, it’s the time when people evaluate the year that’s about to end and forecast the upcoming year… What would you remember about the year 2011 and what are your prognoses for the leap year 2012?
2011 was a hard year, to say the least. I think that everything bad and negative that could have happened already happened in 2011. Enormous number of political prisoners and, as a result, worsening of relations with the civilized world; terrorist attack in the subway; defaulted economy; flagrant sale of state property… This list lacks, if anything, an epidemic or a natural disaster. A natural disaster as we have had other disasters for 17 years already. And concerning 2012… Traditionally, during the New Year time we look ahead optimistically. Maybe somewhere inside I hope that everything will be fine. But I rationally understand that Belarus doesn’t have any objective or subjective preconditions that would lead to positive changes. Although I sincerely wish to prove myself wrong.
- We would be glad to work exclusively on proposals for pension system reforms, organize educational programs, communicate with international partners regarding the issues of ageing… But if the state has political prisoners, it’s the duty of all the civic initiatives to make the greatest efforts and facilitate their release. First, it’s the right thing to do. Second, if you think that you will be safe, you cherish unwarranted illusions. It won’t let you stay aside. Eventually, one day, they will come to get you, too. And history has already witnessed that. Therefore, as long as there are political prisoners in our country and all the conditions for political prisoners to emerge, Our Generation will bring attention to this issue both inside and outside the country.
- Referring back to the results of the year: Could you please tell us about Our Generation development? What were the most interesting achievements in 2011 and what are the most vital issues for the organization today?
- Due to some objective and subjective reasons, Our Generation was rather a human rights movement that also delivers information. As much as we could, we defended the rights of the retirees, disseminated the information. But I can state with pleasure that the situation changes drastically. Today, we can offer any activity for any pensioner. For example, in our campaign for studying EU pension systems we urge retirees and everyone interested in the issue to ask questions about EU social policies. Later on, we will analyze the answers of our international partners and embassies to formulate proposals on structuring our pension policy. In frames of the “No one is forgotten, nothing is forgotten” initiative we urge all the pensioners who are not indifferent to participate in monitoring of the court trials. Our aim is to change radically the situation when we don’t know even half of the names of all the people arrested during public actions and as a result of other violations of civic rights. I should also emphasize that these campaigns operate nationwide and any Belarusian retiree can participate. You just need to contact our secretary. It’s time for action! And a few words about the results of the year 2011: we were able to start new contacts and get more opportunities. We established relations with the League of Lithuanian Mothers, intensified cooperation with our partners from Seniors’ Club of Christian Democrats of Lithuania, were again accepted to European Seniors Union. Moreover, we joint Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and coalition “Without Visa”. That’s why we are optimistic about the future in terms of new experience and organizing new and useful events. But just for the sake of it, I won’t talk about it in details yet.
¬Has there been any progress at all in acquiring a legal status for Our Generation?
- Indeed, that’s a sore point, which by the way got the most attention at the Board meeting. Unfortunately, I can’t give a positive answer to your question. But that is only a beginning. To our regret, this issue is too sensitive in our country. Experience shows that being a self-sufficient organization and bringing necessary documents to the registration authorities is not enough for acquiring a state registration. We have to make extra efforts to receive the cherished sealed paper. We could, of course, follow the advice and praise everything that is going on in our country before we get a registration. We could also register an “establishment”. But, excuse me, are we 15 years olds? Why should we play obscure games? And then, what is the significance of the state registration that we should sacrifice our principles for it? No criminal persecution? But we live in the conditions when one can get arrested for mere intentions. Our Generation is an organization that fully complies with the Law on Civic Associations: we have enough initiators, we do not advocate violence and are not extremists. Thus, we are determined to go through all the procedures required by the abovementioned Law taking in consideration the previous denials by the Ministry of Justice. And we will do it as openly as possible. Hence, I would like to let the registration authorities know: we are not going to break the Law and are ready to cooperate on issues of state registration. I would also like to ask our loyal initiators: if you are ready to participate in establishment of our organization and are ready to state it publicly, please, contact our secretary. I would also like to convey this message to the international organizations: we are absolutely open for you and are very interested in you observing the registration of the civic initiative. We also ask legal and human rights organizations to give their evaluation of our documents. We plan to have the Congress in March-April.
- And the last and a nicer question. Have you had any pleasant surprises on the New Year Eve?
- Yes! And those were postcards from our political prisoners. I didn’t expect any New Year greetings from Nikolai Statkevich, ZmicerDashkevich, PavelSyromolotov, and Ales Bialiatski. Anyways, they sent greetings to our entire organization and I have a pleasure in passing the greetings to all of us through our newsletter.






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