The creative part of the editorial board's work has not changed a bit. Last week I was invited to see the Minister of Information, Mr. Lutsky, who started another conversation about how the newspaper criticises the authorities very harshly. The authorities are naturally not happy about this.
I replied that during the same tough times earlier, either a presidential advisor or the head of the administration would have approached me saying the authorities had been unhappy with my newspaper and asking what I was going to do about it.
I would have answered them the same I was going to answer him, “The newspaper has always been published in compliance with each and every legal act. The newspaper will be published on the basis of our legislation and the moral principles of employees, staff, and editor-in-chief.”
We're not going to serve anyone today. We are not a party body. We are not a body catering to the financial interests of a bunch of oligarchs. We are a private, independent, democratic newspaper.
We stand in solidarity with our colleagues, and we have expanded our editorial staff. For example, TUT.BY [the country's major online news portal] had its media status revoked, so its journalists and photojournalists do not have the opportunity to participate in and cover events. We are a media organization, and we stand in solidarity, so I issued an order and included some of them in our editorial staff, gave them new press cards.
As a result, today they can offer coverage of the mass protests, and many of them have documents confirming their employment with Narodnaya Volya. However, they have also been detained and convicted – in Gomel and in Minsk. So it goes: this is the fate of the press today. The only thing that matters is that we do not feel ashamed later for having retreated, stepped aside out of fear.
The print press still has a significant audience. Hundreds of people contact me today. These people are mostly of mature age, because young people prefer new technologies more, while the middle-aged still want to hold a newspaper in their hands, and they represent a significant part of the population.
This newspaper can also later be passed from hand to hand. On the front page of every issue we put a slogan over the name of the newspaper that reads "Read and pass on". Thus, one copy of the newspaper can be read by tens, if not hundreds, of people, until it finally wears thin.
The authorities have their own printed newspapers, but they are all biased, and our newspapers – independent, non-state ones – expose their fraud and their lies. To avoid such revelations, the authorities crack down on these few democratic newspapers.
After all, when the population see no counterarguments; when they don't even know there might be the other side to the story, a different point of view, or another perspective; it is easy to zombify them, and beat anything the authorities want into their heads.
They clearly believe that if they close down the few printed newspapers, there will only be state television, state radio, and state newspapers left, and people will have no other perspective…