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Belarus Authorities Continue Decisive Crackdown Of Protests Despite Their Switch To ‘Nonviolent Resistance’ Phase

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Belarus Authorities Continue Decisive Crackdown Of Protests Despite Their Switch To 'Nonviolent Resistance' Phase

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On August 12th, protests in Belarus continued, with a new way to present citizen’s disobedience: former members of the Belarusian Internal Troops are saying how disgusted they are by how the authorities are treating the people and are sharing videos of throwing away their uniforms.

Videos with these actions are widely shared by pro-opposition media outlets:

At the same time, the propaganda network, especially with the Nexta Live channel heading all of them are organizing the protests, which will continue until the Central Electoral Commission allegedly reveals the true results of the vote on August 9th.

Pro-opposition source claim that the only “true” and acceptable result would be if opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is appointed president of Belarus, since according to them she was the one legally elected. Nonetheless, the actions of the opposition demosntrate that the real goal is just to overthrow the Lukashenko-led political regime.

At the same time, the continued usage of force by law enforcements against protesters and just people that question the current actions of the government (even after the decrease of violence by the opposition and its switch to’peaceful ways’) contribute to the increase of the dissatisfaction of people that do not even support the opposition.

Several prominent journalists of Belarusian state TV channels resigned amid the protests.

“The workers of the state propaganda began to resign en masse and demonstratively,” pro-opposition media claim describing the sitaution.

The next opposition plan is for nobody to go to work, and organize a blockade, then use the blockade to distribute leaflets. And all of this is reinforced by a quote from Bruce Lee – “be water.”

“And also, since no one goes to work anyway … then we go out into the streets and stop all of Belarus from the very morning! In the centers of our cities, we become in a chain of solidarity, gather around our factories, distribute leaflets to passers-by and block roads! And, of course, do not forget about the wonderful principle “be water”!”

The leaflets call the situation “war” and compare it to the fascist occupation of 1941, and much more fear-mongering propaganda.

Belarus Authorities Continue Decisive Crackdown Of Protests Despite Their Switch To 'Nonviolent Resistance' Phase

Click to see full-size image

The call ends with a promise that in the next few days a final plan would be introduced to send President Alexander Lukashenko into retirement, and potentially even to The Hague (the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice).

In addition, a list is being compiled of active personnel in the Ministry of internal affairs, all individuals who presumably are actively “fighting” against the protests. The list is being used for opposition to message them on social media and to threaten them and their families if they continue doing their jobs.

Summing up events of the recent days it becomes clear that Lukashenko and his inner circle have been able to suppress the coup attempt through street riots. However, the further non-proportional usage of force against opposition supporters and just people that participated in the protests had a negative effect on the popularity of the current country’s leader and his government. The inability of authorities to set up some ‘red lines’ for the usage of force against protesters that participate in peaceful actions became the main issue. Regardless their political positions, most of the citizens have a straightly negative view towards the current actions of the government. Therefore, while the Luakshenko government is not falling, it will be forced to act in the very hostile environment and amid the dramatically decreasing approval rating. Tactical successes of the opposition in organizing peaceful actions, a nation-wide strike (not so nation-wide at the moment), and the flash mob with throwing of uniforms to the garbage are mostly a result of Lukashenko’s own actions. The government also lost the battle in the media sphere. Pro-opposition Telegram channels and media outlets dominate in Belarus.

This is another lesson from the Belarusian protests. While the timely and decisive usage of force against radicals could be an effective measure to prevent the coup attempt through street riots, the usage of force itself is not enough. It is needed to employ such measures proportionally to actions of protesters, actively inform people about the real situation and set conditions for the dialogue with the dissatisfied part of the society. Nonetheless, so far, Minsk has mostly avoided any real constructive dialogue and has not addressed the existing social and economic problems in the society. Thus, the provocation staged by rioters (many of them supported, financed and coordinated from abroad, first of all from Poland) in fact appeared to be successful creating additional divisions within the society.

If the situation develops in this direction, Lukashenko’s efforts to keep his power and further, and organize a controlled transfer of power to his successor (maybe even to his son) will be undermined. Probably, the main external factor that could contribute to the popularity of the Lukashenko government is the global economic crisis, in the case of which Belarus (mostly excluded from global economic processes and already prepared for the life in poor economic conditions) will have notable chances to remain a particular island of stability in eastern Europe.

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