Minsk, August 14, 2020
His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Zaslavl, the Patriarchal Exarch of Belarus, is calling on his flock and fellow countrymen to lay aside the anger, hostility, and hatred that has swept through the country since the recent presidential elections, and to instead show prudence, peace, and a readiness for dialogue and harmony.
The authorities and society should jointly seek peaceful paths to resolving the crisis, especially turning to God in prayer, Met. Pavel said in a press conference held on Wednesday, August 12.
“We didn’t expect such trouble to come to us today,” Met. Pavel said, “that it could be like this, that relatives and friends could turn against one another.”
According to official data, President Alexander Lukashenko, who has already ruled in Belarus for 26 years, won his 6th presidential election on August 9 with about 80% of the vote, while his main contender, Svetlana Tikhonvskaya, received about 10% of the vote.
Opposition groups and the EU believe the election was seriously marred by ballot stuffing and fraud to keep Lukashenko in power. Protests erupted throughout the country in response, with thousands being arrested, and two protesters dying and hundreds more injured in clashes with the police.
Against this background, His Eminence called upon the “defenders of our fatherland, who are set up to protect the people, to scale their authority and their capabilities regarding those who today think there is another path but don’t know how to start upon it.”
He also addressed parents whose children “go out to the barricades:” “I would like to encourage them to tell their children that there is another way—a way of peace and harmony, which we can follow to preserve peace and unanimity in our fatherland.”
Met. Pavel also called upon the authorities to think about what can and should be done to get out of the present difficult situation.
And turning to “those who have come to Belarus to stir up hostility and hatred here,” the head of the Belarusian Church pleaded: “Go back to your homes, do not ignite the flames of hostility and hatred here.”
“Our people have endured so much misery, sorrow, and war… Leave the Belarusian people to live and choose the path they will follow,” he called.
The Metropolitan does not want to condemn either side he said, noting that there are “dark forces” that live by and prosper from seeing enmity and hatred arise between people. “I would like to wish that peace, unanimity, and harmony would continue to remain in our blessed land,” Met. Pavel said.
It is impossible to make any right decisions with the passions of hostility and hatred raging within us, His Eminence counseled. The situation can only be resolved if the people pray and let peace and cooler heads prevail. There are real issues, Met. Pavel said, “but they can and should not be resolved by confrontation, and God forbid that blood be spilled again.”
Therefore, it is necessary to slow down and turn to God in prayer, His Eminence emphasized.