Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has been involved in politics for over a month, but she is now considered the top rival of the dictator Alexandr Lukashenko, who has controlled all political processes in Belarus non-stop for 26 years.
How can a woman with a month of political experience oppose a man who has been at the helm of a repressive political system for decades?
It might seem impossible but this happened. She won against Lukashenko, who became the victim of the greatest revolt against him in 26 years. A revolt initiated by an inexperienced woman, without money, and without political intentions.
For 26 years, he has turned women’s participation in administrative and political processes into something ridiculous and perverse.
Twenty-six years ago, Lukashenko abandoned his wife in a remote village. He did not bring his wife to the capital, a better place for all his family. Lukashenko is married to Galina Lukashenko and has two adult sons. Lukashenko has a third son, whose mother was Lukashenko’s personal doctor.
He decided to patronize modeling activities with women and ruled on the winners of the Miss Belarus contests, and on those who would be enrolled in various activities at the presidential palace, paid for with public money. Moreover, he enabled Miss Belarus to become a Member of Parliament at the age of 24, without political struggle and political skills.
Throughout the 26 years, Lukashenko considered women, who make up half of Belarusian society, as a lower class, and unequal category, with no access to important public office until he decides to choose only those with certain physical parameters and of undoubted obedience.
Every year, Lukashenko silenced his opponents through arrests and intimidation. In 26 year-period, some of them disappeared without a trace while others had to take refuge. In early 2020, Lukashenko arrested a few more men, who allegedly intended to run for president. Just a few weeks before the election, the wife of one of the possible arrested candidates enrolled for the presidency. Tikhanovskaya, a 37 years old woman, with pedagogical studies, not much work experience, and any political experience, became Lukashenko’s top rival.
Lukashenko did not know how to react to this act. Instead, Belarusian society knew it. In just a few weeks, Tikhanovskaya became the most beloved of the Belarusians, and his opponent – the most hated man.
Just two days after the election, Tikhanovskaya disappeared from the public space. Official information reveals that she and her children had gone to Lithuania. The burden of disobedience and public revolt has fallen on her, an inexperienced woman who has nothing to lose but her family.
Now, Tikhanovskaya has a husband in a Belarusian prison, a state that still uses capital punishment. She is also responsible for the safety of her two children.
What will she choose next? To protect her family from the fear of death or to join the barricades next to the people who elected her?
Tikhanovskaya achieved the impossible. And the man, who frightened Belarusians for 26 years, is experiencing fear by himself now. There were many male dictators in the past who considered themselves invincible but were defeated.