Learning from Belarus

Learning from Belarus
15 August 2020 | 08:24

Belarus has exploded. Is it a new twitter revolution or another Maidan? Will the Belarusians end up repeating the lesson of the 2014 Ukrainian Maidan? Will President Alexander Lukashenko repeat the fate of former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych? 

For now, things are in the phase of April 7, 2009 twitter revolution in Chișinău, with massive street protests, persecution and violent confrontations between police and protesters, similar to events in our country, after the Communist regime rigged the results of the 2009 parliamentary elections in Chișinău and arranged a comfortable majority in the Legislature.

One day after the elections, on the evening of April 6, several thousand people, gathered at the monument of Ștefan cel Mare with an anti-communist slogan “Moldova back”, and on April 7 they stormed the Parliament and the Presidency, demanding the Communist Party to leave the government.

Presidential elections took place on August 9 in Belarus. Today, they are not over yet, degenerating into massive street protests in Minsk and all major cities in Belarus, after the Central Electoral Commission announced Alexander Lukashenko the winner of the first round, with more than 80 percent of the vote. Lukashenko has ruled the country for 26 years and has often been called Europe’s last dictator. 

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Lukashenko’s main right-wing opponent, was the only one left in the presidential race (the others were arrested or removed from the race before the election).  According to the Central Electoral Commission, she got 10 percent of the votes, which drove the Belarusians out of their homes. 

Tens of thousands of people took to streets to protest, accusing the government of fraudulent elections and demanding Lukashenko’s resignation. The European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have criticized the Belarusian elections.

In Belarus, the authorities used force against their own citizens, who only demanded a change in the country. Authorities mobilized special police forces against the protesters and military equipment filled the streets.

People were attacked with water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades. There were deaths and injuries. More than 2,000 people were detained by law enforcement. The courts of the police stations are full of beaten and tortured detainees.

The protests in Belarus are similar to the protests in Moldova on April 7, 2009, which were held against the results of the parliamentary elections. What makes an exception to the April 7 revolution is the unexpected escape of Tikhanovskaya from Belarus to Lithuania, although immediately after the election she had stated that she would not leave the country and would try to persuade Lukashenko to accept the transfer of power peacefully, so as not to generate another Maidan.

A day later, however, Tikhanovskaya appeared on social media with a video message in which she regretted that she had ventured into this electoral struggle.

“I thought that this campaign have really steeled me and given me so much strength that I can cope with anything, but I guess I am still the same weak woman that I was. I know, many will understand me, many will condemn me, and many will hate me … I would not wish anyone to have to make such a choice. Children are the most important thing in our lives,” said Tikhanovskaya.

Although she claims that nobody influenced her to give up the fight, the message says it all. Tikhanovskaya was forced to choose between politics, power, and family. She chose the family. 

It is difficult to blame her for the choice she has made as a woman. However, she should have calculated her steps and the resistance coefficient well before entering the elections. Politics is similar to war. Politics and political euphoria are not the same thing.

Regrets are of no use, no matter how great they are. The president for whom the people took to streets is not there anymore, she left them and quitted. In this situation, Lukashenko is in double gain both electoral and post-electoral (anti-street).

Presidential elections in Moldova will take place in the fall. President Igor Dodon, aided by Putin and backed from the shadows by Russian mercenary troops in the Wagner group could repeat Lukashenko’s feat.

Since he could not become, as he dreamed, like Putin in the last four years, Dodon hopes to become at least like Lukashenko for the next few years. However, Dodon is far from being either Putin or Lukashenko. Both have character while Dodon is a bent man.

What will happen to Dodon is clear. What will happen to the right-wing in the election? What do we learn from the Belarusian lesson? What about the Tikhanovskaya lesson?

Today, Dodon has virtually no partners, except for what is left of the Democratic Party. Nobody believes him any longer except for those who can be easily cheated. It’s not just the right-wing, the left is also against Dodon. The offensive launched by Pro Moldova is the one that must be supported and carried to the end. 

Who will be our candidate in the first round of the election? What about the second round? Someone from the Unionist Movement? Which one, for they are several? There are no answers to all these questions. Dodon has become a common evil, against which we intend to act separately. This is not a solution.



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