Hiroshima Voices: “No Nukes, No War” Nadzeya Mytskikh, 42, interpreter from Belarus, Asakita Ward, Hiroshima

A dictator threatening to use nuclear weapons is also an issue in my country

by Fumiyasu Miyano, Staff Writer

Nadzeya Mytskikh has joined protests from Hiroshima in opposition to Alexander Lukashenko, president of the Republic of Belarus, who is known as “Europe’s last dictator.” When Russia, an ally of her home of Belarus, invaded Ukraine, Ms. Mytskikh staged a protest against the war in front of the A-bomb Dome, in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward, together with Ukrainian residents of the city. She testified that, at the time of the Chernobyl nuclear power accident in the former Soviet Union in April 1986, she had seen puddles of foamy, yellowish water in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. She suffers even now from a disorder of the thyroid.

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In March of this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin suddenly announced the deployment of Russian strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus. The revelation was made not in an address to the Russian people but rather in a television interview. Without seeking Belarus’ opinion on the issue, Mr. Putin announced the measure as if it was a foregone conclusion. He seemed to be treating our country as a Russian colony.

Belarusian people suffered terribly in the former Soviet Union’s Chernobyl nuclear accident. With deployment of nuclear weapons on our nation’s soil, we will be exposed to danger again. From the side of any attackers, Belarus would be considered a first-strike target because it is more vulnerable than is Russia. The situation is intolerable because the lives and safety of nine million people in Belarus are under direct threat.

I had long given up hope about the Lukashenko regime’s dictatorship. However, at the same time, I could not accept his violent crackdown against the demonstrators accusing his government of fraud in Belarus’ 2020 presidential election. The authorities fired rubber bullets at, detained, and harmed participants in the peaceful demonstrations. People I know were tortured. I have joined a group of Belarusian people living in Japan and protested against the Belarusian government by organizing demonstrations. When the Tokyo Olympics were held in 2021, I helped a Belarusian athlete seek asylum after she was ordered to return home because she had stood up to her coach by expressing her own opinions.

In March 2022, after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, I protested in front of the A-bomb Dome. I wanted to convey the fact that President Lukashenko’s support of President Putin did not represent the will of the Belarusian people. Russian forces heading to Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev have to pass through Belarus. Unless we stop President Lukashenko, the war will not end.

These two dictators are threatening the rest of the world with nuclear weapons. Their actions are similar to those of terrorists. Nuclear weapons have become the armaments of dictators. Russia’s invasion has made it clear that a security framework based on nuclear weapons does not make the world safe. Leaders visiting Hiroshima to attend the summit meeting of the G7 (Group of Seven industrialized nations) should engage in discussions about the most important issue in the world today, which is how to guarantee security independent of nuclear weapons.