Mr Shushkevich personally tells us about those real facts and events that took place fourteen yeas ago.
(Reporter Ales SIVY:) Stanislaw Stanislawovich, the Belovezhskaya Agreements were signed on December 8 1991.
(Stanislaw Shushkevich:) ". After a mixed team of Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians worked over the night. The only sentence which we accepted on December 7 and verbally agreed upon was "the USSR, as a geopolitical reality and subject of international law, ceases to exist". All three of us - Boris Eltsin, Leonid Kravchuk and Stanislaw Shushkevich - gave our consent to subscribe to this sentence. By the way, today there are debates on who was the first to bring it up. I am very well aware who did, but."
(Ales Sivy:) You?
(Stanislaw Shushkevich:) "Not me. When we agreed to the idea, it became clear at once that all aspects should be identified and that an Agreement should be prepared in order to answer all questions that would arise after signing. The Agreement we made was comprised of four paragraphs, and each one of them had to be accepted in consensus by six persons. Apart from me, Boris Eltsin and Leonid Kravchuk, Belarusian Prime Minister Vecheslav Kebich, Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin and Russian Prime Minister Gennady Burbulis took part in this meeting. I again emphasize that no article met any difference of opinions."
(Ales Sivy:) Did you gather around surreptitiously at night?
(Stanislaw Shushkevich:) "We did not gather around surreptitiously. All were aware of this... On December 7 we flew to a military base near Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Each delegation had a big team of its own. Our team consisted of Vecheslav Kebich, his deputy Mikhail Myasnikovich, Minister of Foreign Affairs Petr Kraqvchenko, and there were also rather many lawyers and competent experts. We were going to negotiate economical issues and, therefore, experts on economy participated too. Mr Eltsin landed in Minsk first. After I met Leonid Kravchuk in Minsk, I supposed that we should not waste any time and flew together with him. Mr Kebich and the rest of the Belarusian team used a Belarusian governmental plane and flew separately, without me. By the way, we also invited Nursultan Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan for the meeting. We talked to him and he promised to arrive, but then he made it look like his airplane was not able to take off because of technical problems."
(Ales Sivy:) At what time did you arrive at the governmental residence in Belovezhskaya Pushcha?
(Stanislaw Shushkevich:) "It was still daylight. At first we accommodated ourselves. We selected the best apartments for Mr Eltsin. Mr Kravchuk was placed in almost similar apartments. I decided to take a hunting lodge. Delegations were accommodated in nearby premises, while all the rest were offered a place in a hotel, half a kilometer away from the residence. So, we arrived on December 7, had lunch and then dinner. Next day, after breakfast, we worked at the documents all day long. A governmental service was taking care of the food service and former Chairman of the KGB Eduard Shidlovskiy was responsible for security."
(Ales Sivy:) How big was the security service?
(Stanislaw Shushkevich:) "Security was very tight! This is because the leaders of the three countries assembled... I do not know in detail of who guarded us, but I asked Mr Shidlovskiy some times "Can we be sure for our safety?" He answered "It's all right! We are in close connection with a Russian special security service and there will be no excesses". In short, no one disturbed us from work and in the morning of December 8 a draft document was ready. The six of us made some corrections ourselves, if some of us did not agree, and forwarded our notes for further improvement. It was a great work! Documents such as the Agreements are usually being prepared by special services or departments for nearly a month, while we made it in one day and to this day there are no juridically grounded observations."
(Ales Sivy:) When you flew there, did you already know about the signing of the Agreements?
(Stanislaw Shushkevich:) "In no circumstances! No one thought about this. In general, I have flown there together with Mr Kravchuk because the basic issue to be discussed was an energy problem; sparing Belarus the cold winter difficulties. The market economy started to be implemented in Russia and we were forced to solve both economical and political issues."
(Ales Sivy:) At what time did you sign the Agreements?
(Stanislaw Shushkevich:) "We signed it openly during a press-conference on December 8 at approximately 4.00 p.m. Before this, our teams worked over the night and negotiations within "horizontal" groups took place."
(Ales Sivy:) What did you, Mr Eltsin and Mr. Kravchuk do the day before?
(Stanislaw Shushkevich:) "In the evening around 10.00 - 11.00 p.m., we visited a sauna."
(Ales Sivy:) Did you drink alcohol?
(Stanislaw Shushkevich:) "Alcohol was available in the residence as much as possible. I honestly have to say that I saw Boris Eltsin, who was several times, as poet Vysotskiy wrote, in the condition of anabiosis. However he was not even slightly dizzy in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Mr Kravchuk did not drink either . As for me, I considered that drinking on the eve of signing such a fate-changing document would be a crime. It would have been unwise in that situation. After signing each paragraph we touched a glass of brandy, but we drank only half. As I said before there was another problem. I realized that, if the Supreme Soviet does not ratify what I signed, it can mean the end of my career of Chairman of the Supreme Soviet. Signing the Agreements meant to me that Russia recognized the independence of Belarus."
(Ales Sivy:) However, Alexander Lukashenko declared that "Mr Shushkevich was not authorized to sign the Belovezhskaya Agreements" and that "Mr Shushkevich should have gotten permission from the Belarusian Parliament to sign the documents".
(Stanislaw Shushkevich:) "This is the top of foolishness. Firstly, I had all the authority to sign any international agreement. According to our Constitution valid for those times, the act immediately came into force. But after this I also had to ask the Parliament to ratify the agreement. I signed the Belovezhskaya Agreement and asked the Parliament to ratify it, which it did, almost unanimously. The only man who expressed doubt on the Agreements was Valeriy Tihinya. According to protocol, there is no name of Alexander Lukashenko, in those times Deputy of the Supreme Soviet, among the deputies who voted against the Agreements. This is hundred percent true. Even if he, probably, did not participate in the voting, why did he not take the floor to express himself against the Belovezhskaya Agreements? This is what the Russian reporters should have asked him."
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