Belarus’ struggle for democracy

The Belarus election results has come in favour of the popularly known, ‘Europe’s Last dictator’, President Alexander Lukashenko. The people, however, do not mirror the election results published by the Central Election Commission. The brutal police crackdown and accusations of the rigging of votes prompted the largest opposition rally in Minsk that independent Belarus ever saw. While in Lithuania, the opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has claimed that she has overall support of 60% to 70% of the population and was ready to become a national leader and steer the country to another fair election.

The most important developments that are visible in this case is the loss of Lukashenko’s largest and his traditional support base, the workers and the media, which have put their foot down and demanded the government to step down once and for all. The slogans of “leave” which rang on the streets right after the preliminary votes, now come to the forefront as the workers shout them louder when President Lukashenko visited them at a factory. The heckling was a result of the outright denial of the consideration of conducting a new vote after the fraud allegations of the first one. The journalists of the State broadcaster BT also gave an ultimatum to the management to “show people the truth”, end censorship and acknowledge that the elections were rigged. Several renowned State journalists resigned and many staged a walkout.

The President refuses to answer to the growing protests. He said that “We held the election. Until you kill me, there will be no other election.” But he is ready to hold a referendum and agreed to “hand over my authority in accordance with the constitution – but not under pressure and not via street protests”. Meanwhile, his police has arrested over 6,700 protestors and two have already died in the clashes. After the rally and consistent protests being backed by the media and protests is the biggest threat the Alexander Lukashenko’s Government has faced in his last twenty-six years of rule.

Belarusian opposition supporters rally in the centre of Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. Opposition supporters whose protests have convulsed the country for a week aim to hold a major march in the capital of Belarus. Protests began late on Aug. 9 at the closing of presidential elections. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

US administration in a statement said that President Lukashenko could “no longer ignore” the call for democracy there. The Trump administration has also warned Russia to not meddle with the tense and flammable situation in the country and respect Belarus’ sovereignty and the rights of the citizens to elect and vote for their own leader. Everyone knows the interest of Russia in Belarus which has been a former Soviet country, because of the strategic importance of Belarus as a country which carries Russian energy exports to the West. The USA has promised to closely monitor the rising tensions in the country and has also started talks with the EU to normalise the situation in the country, especially after the brutal police violence on protestors of the regime.

The police and the state machinery remain the only thing with President Lukashenko right now as leverage against the protesting citizens. In the sheer uncertainty and doubt as to what will happen in Belarus, President Lukashenko’s only hope is Russia, which has the influence and power right now to provide him with necessary assistance, but Russia has been awfully quiet throughout this whole ordeal. EU and the West will also have to coordinate cut short this long and painful death and bring the whole chapter to an end, otherwise, the struggle and the road to democracy will be a long and winding for the disgruntled citizens.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Apoorva Mishra

Apoorva Mishra is a Former Journalism Intern at The Kootneeti

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