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Tag: belarus

Lukashenka’s crusade against the Roman Catholic Church

Ever since the anti-government protests of 2020, Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka has attempted to control all parts of society. This is even true regarding the local branch of the Catholic Church, whose members continue to criticise the regime.

February 6, 2023 - Camilla Gironi

In and out of Belarus: the dissidents will not give up

Interview with Andrei Vazyanau, a teacher and Belarusian citizen forced to flee across two nations: Belarus and Ukraine. Interviewer: Claudia Bettiol.

January 31, 2023 - Andrei Vazyanau Claudia Bettiol

Belarusian political elites: new, imagined, lost?

The reality in today’s Belarus is that of decreased enthusiasm and less social mobilisation. The ruling elite of the Lukashenka regime is still wielding power and a large part of the society that was active during the 2020 protests is now living abroad or imprisoned.

When today we reflect on the protest movement that started in Belarus in 2020, we can see that one of its distinguishing features were the so-called new faces of the opposition that the whole world focused on and admired. Namely, the world became fascinated by the new Belarusian political leaders who were expected, and hoped for, to change, or fix, the country’s political system, drawing on the then enormous social energy that translated into political mobilisation unprecedented for Belarus.

December 7, 2022 - Maxim Rust

From utopia to dystopia

In August 2020 the whole world learned that there are two “Belaruses”. One is the utopian imaginary of “Lukashism” headed by a soft dictator, and the other is a dystopian, oppressive state in which the greatest enemy of power is a society fighting for their rights. From the term "the dictatorship of prosperity", only "dictatorship" remained and "prosperity" was enjoyed only by members of the power elite who show absolute loyalty to the leader.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka's retention of power for 28 years was widely regarded – even considering the standards known from other post-Soviet states – as a phenomenon of its own. There is no place for any deep philosophy in his leadership because the only goal of this politician was to survive at any cost. For the story of Lukashenka is not the tale of a politician of great stature, whose political career is a streak of success translating into an increase in state power and the well-being of citizens.

December 7, 2022 - Justyna Olędzka

The re-Sovietisation of Belarus

The nature of the crisis in Belarus is the same as in other countries of the region, with the collapse of old Soviet structures in the economy, society, politics and ideology. Alyaksandr Lukashenka does not understand the urbanised modern society he is trying to rule. In order to re-establish control, his regime is trying to move the society backwards. Repressions will be extremely costly for Belarusian society, but Lukashenka’s goal is unlikely to be achieved.

The past two years saw growing pressure from western sanctions on the Belarusian regime. Each move Alyaksandr Lukashenka took since 2020 has further limited his room for manoeuvre. After each of his decisions – the brutal crackdown of the 2020 protests; the repressions that followed; the grounding of the Ryanair plane; and finally, the support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine – a new wave of sanctions was introduced.

December 7, 2022 - Aliaksandr Papko Kacper Wańczyk

Belarusian language and culture: is the patient more alive than dead?

One of the ways to save the Belarusian language is to maintain courage in preserving and displaying the Belarusian identity. This includes pride in Belarusian history and language, which should be used especially in everyday life. Since it is nearly impossible to do this inside the country, perhaps the best place to start is within the Belarusian diaspora.

The consistent and managed destruction of the Belarusian language and culture has become one of the hallmarks of Alyaksandr Lukashenka's rule and a distinctive feature of his regime’s activities since 1996 (together with the increase in Russian influence). As a result, in today’s Belarus, people who use the Belarusian language in their everyday life are discriminated against, while representatives of the Belarusian culture are persecuted. Belarusian citizens can be arrested for displaying their Belarusian identity in the streets of Minsk even when they speak Belarusian while offering guided tours, or wear socks with white-red-white stripes.

December 7, 2022 - Katarzyna Bieliakowa

Neo-totalitarianism as a new political reality in Belarus

The large shift that has taken place within Belarusian society has illustrated both a high demand for change and the loss of broad support for Alyaksandr Lukashenka. This has led the ruling elite to realise that the regime can no longer operate in the same conditions it had pre-2020. Serious restructuring was thus necessary to ensure that the regime maintains its overall control of the state and counters any form of anti-system civic activity.

The political system in Belarus has undergone a series of changes since Alyaksandr Lukashenka came to power in 1994. Over this period of 28 years it has evolved from a hybrid regime, which included elements of façade democracy, to a neo-totalitarian one. This transformation was possible because of changes that had taken place within society and the state, and which in the end allowed for the formation of new authoritarian institutions, practices and methods.

December 7, 2022 - Pavel Usov

Gudijos istorija for the 21st century

With regards to Belarus, it is difficult to ask Lithuanians, or actually any other neighbouring society, about how they perceive Belarusians. The truth is that in this country we are dealing with two entities: the official Belarus and the Belarus of the opposition.

At first glance, in the autumn of 2022, Vilnius has enjoyed a normal life. The capital of Lithuania has finally almost returned to its pre-pandemic pace of life. The majority of institutions are now working like they were before. The same can be said about small shops, coffee shops and restaurants. Even though the prices that you pay there are much higher. It is also not difficult to notice that some new places have been set up. For example, on Gediminas Avenue there is a bar called Pahonia, while Vilnius Street is now home to the Belarusian House, which is located near the main government building.

December 7, 2022 - Andrzej Pukszto

The tragedy for Belarus and Ukraine

The dream of Belarusians to end the occupation and build their own democratic nation-state will come true when Europe realises that the values of western civilisation should be prioritised over the interests of different influential groups. If Ukraine can stop the imperial ambitions of Russia, a free and democratic Belarus can shut them down for good.

Milan Kundera’s essay “The Tragedy of Central Europe” had an enormous effect on many European nations fighting for freedom and independence before the end of the Cold War. Here, we refer to those nations that Western Europeans did not consider European enough. When reading the first lines of the essay in 2022, the banal yet proven argument that history is cyclical comes to mind: “In November 1956, the director of the Hungarian News Agency, shortly before his office was flattened by artillery fire, sent a telex to the entire world with a desperate message announcing that the Russian attack against Budapest had begun. The dispatch ended with these words: 'We are going to die for Hungary and for Europe.'"

October 3, 2022 - Pavel Latushka

Do not forget Belarus’s involvement in Russia’s war in Ukraine

After almost half a year into Russia’s military campaign against Ukraine it remains crucial to keep Belarus accountable for its participation.

August 12, 2022 - Mark Temnycky

How a free Belarus can join the anti-Putin coalition

Since the spurious presidential elections of 2020 and subsequent protests, as well as the repressions that have been taking place, we know that Alyaksandr Lukashenka does not represent Belarus. Even more importantly, regardless of the scale of repressions, the Belarusian nation is not the dictator’s property. It continues to fight for its freedom and independence and could be a vital force in ending Russian imperialism once and for all.

The anti-Putin coalition is divided on the question of what tactics should be used against Russia at the time of its war against Ukraine. The main problem in this dispute involves two key conflicting ideas. The first believes that we should take advantage of Putin’s huge mistake of starting a war in Ukraine and now must do everything possible to get rid of Russian imperialism in Central and Eastern Europe.

July 15, 2022 - Paweł Kowal

A referendum in the shadow of war

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has shifted international attention away from yet another referendum in Belarus. Like all the previous ones, these reforms significantly change the Belarusian political landscape, while giving Alyaksandr Lukashenka even more influence and power.

A long-debated constitutional referendum was held in Belarus on February 27th. It had only one question: do you accept the new constitutional amendments? An alternative version of the constitution was put forward by the country’s democratic forces outside of Belarus called “The People's Constitution”. However, this was not even considered by the state working group. Despite an official invitation to all citizens to participate in public debate and suggest proposals, it became obvious that only those changes proposed in line with the regime's vision would be considered and adopted by Minsk.

July 14, 2022 - Hanna Vasilevich

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