Wave of Change in Belarus

 


Belarus is a country situated between Ukraine and Russia in eastern Europe. This country gained independence from USSR in 1991 and in 1994 this country adopted a new Constitution which declared this country a democratic, social, republic. It also granted many freedoms like freedom of speech, freedom of presses etc.

So according to the constitution of 1994, this country was a democratic and liberal one. In the same year free and fair elections were conducted in the country, just like any other democratic country. And a politician known as Alexandra Lukashenko was elected as the president of Belarus.

Alexander Lukashenko is the only president in the entire independent history of Belarus. There was no president elected before or after him. As even today this man stands as one and only dictator of Belarus also known as last dictator of EU.

Two years after getting elected as president Lukashenko, in November 1996 conducted a referendum, which is considered as a fraud referendum and the public wasn’t really asked their opinion. This was a stepping stone to pass the constitutional reforms.

He amended and molded the ruled according to his benefit, most importantly transferring of powers to president and making his position much more powerful even in comparison with parliament. The prime minister became a nominal head only

And since then all the elections held in Belarus were rigged and due to this Lukashenko kept on getting reelected in the elections and hold position of power. In the history of Belarus only the election held in 1994 are considered as free and fair.

 

Story of 26 Years

The economy of the country was strictly controlled and monitored by the government .it was a closed economy; hence private sector played a very minor role of only contribution less than 20% in the GDP.

Belarus and Russia have strong relations and economically Belarus is dependent on Russia or in other words the country run due to constant support from Russia.

The country is constantly pushed from one crisis to another. In 2011 the inflation reached 109% due to financial mismanagement. In 2016 their GDP growth was running in negatives. The issue of unemployment remains grave and unaddressed even today

When the question of media comes into picture, the dictator has an absolute control over it. In fact, Memo 98 -a media company revealed that in the period between May and June, this year, 97% media coverage was given to Lukashenko and only the rest 3% to opposition.

Also, anyone who joins protest or speaks against the president is treated like a terrorist. Many people had tried to contest election against president Lukashenko since 2010 put they were put behind the bars or were disqualified to contest under some pretext.

 

Election 2020

Presidential elections were held in Belarus on 9th august 2020and Lukashenko had already served as president for 5 terms and was contesting for the 6thone.

In election 2020 president Lukashenko faced a strong opposition. There were 3 candidates against him and all were disqualified. The third candidate was Sergei Tikhanovsky he was main opposition. The potential candidate was put behind the bars in end May.

Thing looked smooth from the point of view of dictator Lukashenko as there was no one against him. But later Svetlana, wife of Sergei Tikhanovsky stated that since his husband is locked up, she will stand in elections of 2020.

10 days before election, the rally of Svetlana attracted approx. 10,000 people, lakhs people turned up to support her. The arrested candidate also backed her.

On the day of election no independent observer was called, no opinion polls were allowed, there was a complete internet blackout which lasted for next few days.

There was no surprise that next day when the results were declared they were a fraud as 80% of votes was in favor of Lukashenko and won the election.

European Union, USA and UK has openly stated that fraud was committed in the election of Belarus 2020. EU also added that it would declare sanctions against Belarus due to fraud election.

Svetlana Tikhanovskay fled the country to a neighboring country Lithuania, after declaration of election results for safety of her kids and her own.


 Slipper Revolution

After what all happened in election 2020 in Belarus and the potential candidate leaving the country, citizen of the country took this as a wake-up call for the long facing problem.

They came out on streets for mass protests lead to beginning of slipper revolution also known as anti-cockroach movement. The reason behind giving this terminology is because Sergei Tikhanovsky who is a youtuber, he compared Lukashenko as cockroach who should be thrown out.

The interesting fact is though more than ten thousands of people gathered in Belarusian protest the nature of the protest was peaceful. The demand was clear, as they wanted recounting of votes in the election. Both the response from the side of Lukashenko on a contrary was violent enough.

The violent response included lathi charge, grenades were thrown, use of tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons. All of these were deployed against the peaceful protesters. Not only that there were more than 7000 of people who were arrested for going against the President.

The treatment of arrested people was a grave abuse of human rights as they were tortured and not given food for several days.

Clearly the country was falling apart and as an add on to the whole situation workers of government companies join the hands with protesters. The loyal ones of Lukashenko stopped coming to work. They went on strike.

Hence if I summarize this, I want to ask you that did this struggle by people of Belarus for democracy, free and fair election, standing for their rights and standing against a dictator gave you a Deja vu.

My answer would be, yes, as history has very clearly shown us all that dictator like Alexander Lukashenko never stand for long when people stand for their rights and ask questions and so mass protests.

 

Written by - Shalaka Pathak

Edited  by - Adrija Saha


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