Protests in Belarus – over 100 Days

Protests in Belarus continue for over 100 days. The situation in the neighbour country is not changing. Official Minsk is trying to frighten protestors, the power structures are using repressive measures against those people,…

Protests in Belarus continue for over 100 days. The situation in the neighbour country is not changing. Official Minsk is trying to frighten protestors, the power structures are using repressive measures against those people, who are not happy with results of presidential election, which have been obviously fabricated and who demonstrate this. Despite of this, the protests continue; they have become regular and now encompass different social segments of society of Belarus. The position of Russia is considered to be another significant factor in this situation. After a short hesitation Moscow decided to support the President of Belarus, who now is just the actual president of Belarus.
Over time it is most probable that protests will finally start wearing off. Actually, this is advantageous to Alexander Lukashenko, who has already demonstrated that his political regime is steadier than it might seem before, and the civil protest so far yields to the brutal power according to its efficiency.  
Enduring Nervous Game
We can call events in Belarus as kind of an enduring nervous game. On one hand, protestors are demonstrating a remarkable persistence. Protests have become kind of a routine, and this should be an alarming signal to official Minsk. Patience of people has reached the end; the internal protests of the society, which as we might suspect, have been collecting for years and finally turned out to be stronger than fear. It seems that a shocking brutality of the power structures (much stronger than before) had a different effect that Alexander Lukashenko was expecting. People are horrified about brutality of power structures’ behaviour and this additionally enhanced the mentioned internal protests.    
On the other hand, Minsk demonstrates that it has enough resources to withstand protests. Representatives of power structures follow orders and the scope of repressions is still increasing. We can say that officers of OMON and other structures, who are on the other side of the imagined civil barricade also have no way to withdraw. The regime, especially after all repressive measures directed against protestors within the recent months, remains the only and the last warranty of their impunity. The victory of protests would mean that all of them will have to be responsible for their acts. Power structures now are finally associated with bloodshed by Alexander Lukashenko (the expression said here is not in vain – within the recent months representatives of the power structures killed at least 4 protestors).    
It seems that in this case we should talk about the situation of stalemate, however we can see some prospects. Persistence of protestors still has potential to have influence on the situation – this might happen quite fast. If we make a certain forecast, we can say that the situation would drastically change if a certain chain of the state system would not withstand and would suddenly rise against the system again. For instance, in case the forces of Belarus join the side of protestors, the regime of Alexander Lukashenko would immediately collapse. However, another scenario is more probable that power structures would sooner or later would supress protests with the help of their repressive measures – part of active citizens will be terrorized, part of them will be imprisoned for a long time, some of them will emigrate.     
Are there Attempts to Overcome Stress?
We should mention that in solving the problem of protests, Minsk is partly trying to use not only a lash but also a cookie (we have another question – is that cookie sweet?). The visit of Alexander Lukashenko on 10 October to KGB interrogation rooms and ‘round table discussions’ with political prisoners kept there was one of such attempts. In the mentioned meeting the actual president of the state Alexander Lukashenko stated that ‘you cannot write the Constitution on the street”. Thus, he tried to demonstrate his readiness to develop a civil dialogue (or probably – his show) and to discuss abut so-called constitutional reform. To tell the truth, this step did not have a significant effect. Finally, only few persons, who participated in the meeting, agreed to cooperate with Alexander Lukashenko.  After the meeting with the actual president the entrepreneur Yuri Voskrensky and Head of IC company Dmitry Rabcevich were released from the prison. Later it turned out that in this case the arrest has been replaced with a house arrest. Yuri Voskrensky announced that he was delegated to prepare proposals for making amendments to the Constitution. Dmitry Rabcevych emphasized that he ‘was planning to continue developing his business in Belarus’.   
Another similar attempt was the promise of Alexander Lukashenko during one meeting with physicians from Minsk hospitals held on 17 November where he told that after the reform of the Constitution, he would no longer be a President. This message has also been designated to calm down protests, as if promising to fulfil requirements of protestors in a very dim future, i.e. resignation of Alexander Lukashenko from his office. On the other hand, we have also a lot of aspects here – starting with  the one that after reforms of the Constitution Alexander Lukashenko might again try to participate in the presidential election, at the same time ‘has annulled’ previous terms of office (according to the example of Russia) and generally, will hold some office of the national leader/head (according to the example of Kazakhstan).
We must understand that Alexander Lukashenko is a dictator. Politicians of this type never give up power willingly, thus in every promise to withdraw and give up political power, first of all, we have to suspect of an attempt to cheat on the society and manipulate in their expectations.
Will Russia Be the Last to Say the Final Word?
A version that Russia will finally decide on everything in Belarus, is also very popular. Of course, it has its reasons. No secret that Belarus actually depends on Russia both in economic and political point of view. We did not miss the fact that Alexander Lukashenko mentioned about his withdrawal after amendments to the Constitution not long after his meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov.    
Another interesting thing is that the leader of opposition of Belarus Sviatlana Cichanouskaya also expressed her wish to talk to President of Russia Vladimir Putin. She told this idea during her interview of the radio channel to Ukrainian editorial office. She mentioned that she would like to ‘present her position’ to Vladimir Putin and ‘to hear the opinion of Russia regarding the issue of Belarus’. Of course, it sounds quite naive, having in mind that Vladimir Putin some months ago obviously made up his mind to support namely Alexander Lukashenko in this story.   
It might happen that the ones, who think that Moscow has its plan to Belarus and are planning to replace Alexander Lukashenko with some politician, are right. However, even in a situation like this, the current actual President of the country might try to cheat on the Kremlin. Alexander Lukashenko has already demonstrated his light hand in relations with Moscow. As it has been already mentioned, he will hardly give up his power willingly – most probably, he will try to stay in power on the last leg.
Besides, even if the Kremlin manages to replace Alexander Lukashenko with somebody else, we can hardly call it a victory of Belarusian protestors. Firstly, Moscow would delegate a loyal person to take the office of the Belarusian leader. We should not expect for support of the Kremlin to Belarussian democracy. It would be silly to expect that an authoritarian country could support a democracy in the country. Besides, Moscow would be interested to have its delegated person, to stay in the office as long as possible. In this situation the same free and fair election is becoming a risk factor. Thus, the most what Moscow can do in this situation in solution of the problem in Belarus, is to replace one dictator with the other one. 
Viktor Denisenko
 

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