Belarus protests continue against embattled President Lukashenko
Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
President Lukashenko of Belarus is coming under intense pressure to resign because of major protests and civil disobedience. The geopolitical angle of Belarus is also witnessing a less confrontational approach despite America and the European Union (EU) condemning the election outcome. This is based on the fear of Lukashenko turning to the Russian Federation for support.
It appears that political elites in America, the EU, and the Russian Federation seem content for the Belarus people to decide the fate of Lukashenko. Thus not generating a negative geopolitical conflict that would bode ill for peaceful protesters.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the symbolic anti-Lukashenko figure, left Belarus swiftly after the election. However, from the safety of Lithuania, she is expressing strongly that she is willing to step in until democracy is enforced based on the rule of law.
She said, “We all want to leave this loop that we found ourselves in 26 years ago. I am ready to take on the responsibility and become the national leader in this period.”
Lukashenko appears to believe that protests will burn themselves out and minor concessions will preserve his continuity. At the same time, he is hoping the economic angle will impact in his favor over the following weeks. However, he does look increasingly embattled this time, unlike past discontent.
Indeed, with media personnel, protests by workers, and some of the security apparatus showing disdain towards Lukashenko, he knows the severity of the crisis. In the past, the wily Lukashenko could manipulate events when discontent erupted. Yet, he is increasingly looking isolated. Thus it remains to be seen how he can split the protest movement.
Voice of America reports, “The walkouts by journalists and police officers come as workers at major state companies and factories across the country walked off their jobs in solidarity with demonstrators. Many have joined the demands calling for a full review of the official results that said Lukashenka walked away with 80 percent of the vote. They’ve also called for the release of those arrested during the protests.”
Unlike Ukraine, the Russian nationalist angle in Crimea and eastern Ukraine doesn’t exist. Thus providing no adventurism is used by Western powers then Lukashenko’s fate is in his own hands. Therefore, the coming days and weeks will remain extremely tense because protests are genuine and civil disobedience is increasing.
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