Why is Eduard Babariko more than his father’s son?
Eduard Babariko is the son of presidential candidate Victor Babariko. This is often all that people know about the young man, who has been held in jail without trial for the longest term of any political prisoner – almost two years. However Eduard has made a great contribution to the development of the Belarusian society both during the election campaign 2020 and before it. We will tell why it would be a mistake to belittle his role in promoting democratic values.
Engaged in Crowdfunding?
Until 2020, Eduard was head of the crowdfunding platforms Ulej and MolaMola. These were platforms where the whole world could raise money to support those initiatives that were pitched to you by those close to you. This has long been popular in the developed world, but has only just started to gain momentum in Belarus, facing numerous bureaucratic difficulties. Crowdfunding helps society become more involved in solving problems that arise within the country, and builds strong horizontal ties – something the authorities have always feared.
MolaMola’s activities were particularly visible during the covid epidemic in Belarus. They raised money for personal protective equipment, hot lunches for medical professionals, support for the elderly, residents of hostels, homeless people, preparation of informational products, etc. In 2020, Eduard narrated that he was working on preparations before the launch of the new Ulej. The team redesigned the design, made the platform more user-friendly, and launched a mobile version. But the work of crowdfunding platforms in Belarus was halted after Eduardo’s detention.
He took part in cultural projects
Eduard Babariko was responsible for numerous cultural projects during his work in the region. The Ulej helped to make theatre productions, documentaries, short fiction films, music albums and social projects, among other things.
A number of cultural organisations have signed a leaflet demanding the release of Victor and Eduardo Babarico. The signatories noted that “in a situation when the state policy in the sphere of culture is mainly oriented to support the artists who are loyal to the authorities, during the last summer Viktor and Eduard Babariko have created a real ecosystem for the existence of Belarusian culture”.
He realised his voting right
When Viktor Babariko decided to run, Eduard became head of his campaign headquarters. According to his ex-girlfriend Aleksandra Zvereva, Eduard “from the moment he made this decision, he worked 16 hours a day. First, according to Article 32 of the Constitution of Belarus, the state must create the necessary conditions for the free and effective participation of young people in public life, not to detain a man who was carrying legally collected signatures to the Central Election Commission (which can be considered an illegal act for this participation in public life).
Secondly, according to Article 36 of the Belarusian Constitution, Eduard had the right to participate in the activities of associations, which had been created to satisfy, amongst other things, political interests. Also according to Article 37 of the Constitution, anyone and everyone has the right to participate in public affairs – and presidential elections certainly appear to be that way.
According to Article 21 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to take part in the governance of his or her country. The right to take part in public affairs is also confirmed in Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Belarus was still a party when Eduardo Babariko was detained.
Detained arbitrarily in Belarus
After Babarico’s team had collected all the necessary signatures for his nomination as a presidential candidate, Eduardo was arrested on his way to the Central Electoral Commission and taken to the KGB pre-trial detention centre. After more than two years, the young man’s case is the clearest example of the state’s violation of the presumption of innocence. According to it, no one may be found guilty until his guilt has been proven in a fair trial (Article 26 of the Constitution of Belarus, Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Correspondingly, no one can be punished for a crime until proven guilty. Isn’t it punishment that for two and a half years Eduard Babariko has been kept in a pre-trial detention centre in the same conditions? Arbitrarily detained in 2020, all this time he has been denied complaints about his detention
In addition, it is well known that for the first time after his detention Eduard was deprived of his right to defence (Article 22 of the Constitution, Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and was interrogated without a lawyer. The situation is typical of all detainees in Belarus according to political cases.
However, even in these conditions, Eduard continues to set an example for us all: in his small cell he practises yoga, learns English, meditates and even giving lectures on nuclear physics to his cellmates.
“Don’t forget that darkness is simply the absence of light. It is pointless to fight against darkness because it does not exist in essence, it is just an ‘absence’. And the only thing we can do is to light up the world with our good deeds and thoughts. It works every time. Light up!” – Eduard wrote in one of his letters.