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Old vs new: How did the Belarussian opposition change between 2000 and 2020?

In the summer of 2020, Belarus was a popular topic everywhere. After the presidential election, thousands of people took part in massive protests that lasted for months. There was shelling, arrests, and even killings – which happened for the first time.

Protesters were often referred to as pacifists because they tried to avoid violence. However, it is not the first protest in Belarus: street actions take place there every year. It is not even the first attempt at organizing a peaceful revolution.

How did it look like over the past 20 years, and who are the people who were talking about election rigging for years? Who was the first to call for peaceful resistance? And what has happened to them?

Sticker from 2001

I understood that Lukashenko would not just leave the office

The elections and the referendum in 2000–2004

A man in a grey jacket sits at a bus stop reading a newspaper – the edition of one of the first independent journals, Pahonia.

The same is the name of the former national coat of arms of Belarus, which ceased to be official in 1995, during the first term of Aliaksandr Lukašenka as the president of Belarus. Shortly after, the newspaper was accused of slandering the president and banned, as was the coat of arms. But at that point, the man, the history teacher, sitting at the bus stop, hides the newspaper in his black briefcase and gets on the bus. It’s spring 2000.

The newspaper „Pahonia”. Source: lamunikat.org

Although the citizens had money, it immediately became worthless because in 2000, according to IMF data, inflation in Belarus exceeded 100%. The political situation, in turn, was as tense as the economic.

“I would like to remind you of the times back then, between 1999 and 2000. There were many rumours, people were guessing why some were disappearing … There were rumours of the so-called “death squads,” said Uladzimir Hančaryk in an interview with Belsat TV in August 2020. Hančaryk is a former union leader and presidential candidate during the 2001 elections.

Uladzimir Hančaryk in the opposition newspaper in 2001

People who disappeared were opposition politicians Jury Zacharanka and Viktar Hančar and a businessman Anatoĺ Krasoŭski. They disappeared without a trace in 1999. In 2000, journalist Dzmitryj Zavadski went missing. Despite rumours of their murder and supporting documents that Hančaryk has at his disposal, these cases have not been resolved so far.

At the end of the 1990s, when Belarus announced the possibility of registering political parties once again, almost two times fewer of them applied than before. According to the 2003 Friedrich Ebert Foundation report, out of 18 registered parties ranging from national to liberal, more than half were oppositional. Among them were: the Belarusian Women’s Party “Hope”, the United Civic Party, the “BFL” party and many others.

The candidates of some of these groups entered the parliament in the 2000 elections. They were the last opposition MPs for many years. There were few of them, and most of the party leaders did not get to the parliament, which indicated that there are “political constraints of the parliament”, according to the Institute of Social and Political Studies “Our Opinion”.

What is political opposition? In the literal sense, it is the opposition to the authorities. Often, however, the opposition was joined by participants of the so-called culture of resistance described at the beginning of 2000 by Belarusian philosophers Valiancin Akudovič and Michaś Bajaryn. As Bajaryn emphasized, those who took part in the actions organized in 2000 experienced a communal “sense of solidarity, the desire for freedom and the presence of the enemy”.

At that time, the “resistance movement” included parties and independent trade unions, community organizations, and so forth.

Among the youth organizations, the following stood out: the Belarusian Students’ Association (operating since 1992), the Young Front (established in 1997), known for its high-profile actions, and Zubr (existing since 2001), which gathered many supporters of peaceful resistance.

The opposition newspaper „Zubr” in 2001

“Zubr was the first attempt to create a new generation movement. A huge network was created, operating in almost all regions of the country. Being a “bison” (zubr) has become fashionable, “says one of the coordinators of the organization, Uladzimir Kobiec, in an interview for the Naša Niva newspaper in 2019.

Can we assume that these organizations have replaced the parties? “No, definitely not,” believes Paviel Batujeŭ, a resident of Salihorsk and an activist since 2000. “We were not them [parties’ supporters – editor’s note], we were young, we ruled ourselves,” he explains.

Why did young people join the organization? Some of them were just romantic types; others wanted to defend national values or demanded a fair and a just state.

“My neighbour was a hooligan and then started attending the militsiya academy, which did not stop him from drinking in the stairwell; the constable was stealing money from the drunkards. It was a whole picture: Lukašenka is sitting upstairs, and many small Lukašenkas are running around the yards,” says Illia Chorus, an activist and Minsk resident.

Zubr’s promotional sticker

In the presidential elections held on September 9 2001, Lukašenka officially gained around 75% of votes. Disagreeing with this result, citizens took to the streets to protest against the rigged elections.

“Morning time. We, several hundred people, were cut off and pushed to the Palace [of the Republic – editor’s note.]. The streets are being prepared for reporters and foreigners. We are sitting. What boredom! I go out, go to the OMON officers standing by the railing and I ask: «Let me pass; I have no illegal symbols. I’m just going to get beer and food. Be a human being”. And he let me pass,” says a man nicknamed Laks. He comes from a town in the northeast of Belarus and he was about 20 years old then.

The 2001 demonstration was the least big compared to the two following ones, according to Jury Drakachrust, political journalist of Radio Svaboda. Not all of the disgruntled people went to the square.

“I was hitchhiking, and once the former deputy director of the steel mill in Zhlobin gave me a lift” says Aliaksiej Kuźmičoŭ, a drummer and a student from Homiel. “His company did not cast enough votes for Lukašenka, so the director was fired and replaced by another, and the steel mill went bankrupt because of his management. Shortly after that, salaries were cut 1,5 times.”

The policy also affected some social organizations; for example, the Viasna Human Rights Centre lost its accreditation enabling it to monitor the presidential elections in 2001.

Projects related to the national Belarussian idea, flag, coat of arms or the Belarusian language were also subjected to political persecution at that time and later. For example, in 2003, the Belarusian Humanities Lyceum named after Jakub Kolas was deprived of the rights to legal activity and its legal address (now it operates actively in the underground).

According to the constitution, it was Lukašenka’s second and last term as the president. After the 2006 elections, the opposition’s reality could have changed a lot, but it did not. In a 2004 referendum, the constitution was changed, and Lukashenko was allowed to run in elections an unlimited number of times.

“Then I realized that this *** [popular term for a bad man with a bald head – editor’s note] just won’t step down,” says an activist Paviel Batujeŭ. In the same year, the Young Front members began to be arrested, so Paviel joined the persecuted organization on purpose.

Sticker from 2006

“We were proud of our peaceful revolution”

The only candidate of the opposition and the “denim revolution” in 2005–2009

In the following years, society was in turmoil. There was television news propaganda: the potential terrorist attacks threatened people, and the film “Road to Nowhere” was broadcasted, in which the opposition was compared to the fascists.

There were rallies and arrests; demonstrators were beaten or punished. There were also several more traditional actions. The first one took place in the autumn in the Kurapaty wilderness. The second was an alternative to the official celebration of Independence Day, the Freedom Day on March 25. And the third was organized on April 26. It was the “Chernobyl road”, a march on the anniversary of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explosion. Even during these demonstrations, political slogans appeared, such as the proposal to “put an end to the political Chernobyl”.

These protests also had their famous people. One of them is Nina Bahinskaja, a pensioner. She has been protesting since 1988 and owes the state so many fines that “she would have to live 120 years to pay them,” she said in an interview for the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus. But she supports “civil disobedience as a way of fighting: don’t pay, don’t work, don’t obey.”

Nina Bahinskaja. Source: euroradio.fm

Officially, 2005 was the last for one of the legends of the resistance movement, the former military organization Biely Lehion, founded in the mid-1990s to protect Belarus independence from Russia. Later its members acted on their own, for example, protecting one of the presidential candidates in 2006.

Young people led actions aimed at Lukašenka, demanding changes and in solidarity with missing politicians. Zubr claims that it was active in 152 towns at that time.

“Of course, the events were happening not only in the capital but often more actions were also organized in the regions: Maladziečna, Brest, Homiel, Hrodna …” says Dzmitry Barodka from Barysaŭ, currently the regional coordinator of the Belarusian Trade Union of Radioelectronics Industry Workers.

Parliamentary and local elections have almost ceased to be an arena of political competition. “I ran for parliament, but it was clear that most likely they will not let me win. The aim was to show the breach in my example. Eventually, I was fired from my job”, recalls Dzmitry Barodka.

And already in November, Dzmitry – and not only him – left the country and went to Ukraine, where the Orange Revolution began. Many Belarusians followed the events in Ukraine, planning similar activities at home. Instead of orange colour, Belarusians had their symbol – heavy denim, which gained a cult status when the militsiya took the national flag from Mikita Sasim during a demonstration on September 16, 2005. Instead, he picked up a denim jacket.

Stickers from 2005-2006

Presidential elections were scheduled for March 19, 2006, and there were four candidates. Two of them represented the opposition: Aliaksandr Kazulin from the Belarusian Social Democratic Party Hramada and Aliaksandr Milinkievič – the only candidate of the coalition of democratic parties, the United Democratic Forces of Belarus (it existed between 2005–2009).

Aliaksandr Milinkievič in 2007. Source: Jaŭhien Charužy

“In 2006, Lukašenka’s economy peaked. The opposition was well organized not only in large cities but also in the regions,” says Milinkievič. “During this year’s campaign, we performed under the slogans: “Freedom, Truth, Justice”.

Before the elections, activists were under colossal pressure: the police detained them, threatened them, and made it impossible for them to come to the capital. 

Lukašenka officially won 82.6% of the votes, and people gathered again in Minsk’s main square.

“It is difficult to estimate the number of participants in the protests; moreover, in 2006, the repressive apparatus worked intensively, around 1,500 people were detained preventively,” says Dzmitry Barodka.

The protest lasted a week, and the opposition campsite was built.

“At one point, a rumour was spread that troops were coming. I thought: «They are going to beat us. That’s not good”. And I went to hand out the tea,” recalls Daria Katkoŭskaja, the participant of the protest, in the film “Plošča” by director Jury Chaščavacki.

The film about Plošča, 2006:

Alternative narration – state television informing the protesters were preparing the attack:

On March 25, Freedom Day, the opposition holiday, the services forcibly suppressed protests. Their participants were beaten and arrested.

“The regime made the 2006 presidential campaign extremely difficult. But over 30,000 Belarussians came to the square. The most important thing for us was that the protest was exceptionally peaceful,” says Aliaksandr Milinkievič. “The protest was geopolitical in nature, and we supported the integration with Europe. About 30% of voters voted for the Democrats. We did not win, but we were proud of our peaceful revolution of dignity.”

The revolution failed, and the protests gradually ceased. Milinkievič remembers Aliona, ​​who now lives in Norway [her name and country of living were changed at her request – editor’s note]:

“I have flashbacks like the ones from Vietnam. Yesterday a police car followed me slowly, and I almost ran. (…) On March 25, 2007, we were at a protest; we were standing with friends and other people in the front row. It is very crowded, and there is OMON in front of us. I was not afraid. Then the suppression began. During the night, I saw that my whole back was striped due to beating with a police baton. It all happened in the morning, and I didn’t feel any pain until the evening.”

Paviel Vinahradaŭ talks about the following years. Until 2020 he was a record holder in terms of the number of detentions. He spent about 210 days in administrative arrests; he also had two criminal sentences and went on a hunger strike.

Paviel Vinahradaŭ. Source: euroradio.fm

“In December 2007, there was the first protest of entrepreneurs, and I was given 15 days of arrest. It was my first time. Then, in 2008, my first criminal case was brought against me,” he recalls.

How did Lukashenko jail nine candidates, and what came out of it?

Gradual decline in the activity of the opposition and “liberalisation” in 2010–2016

Paviel’s sentence ended before the next presidential election. He became an active employee of one of the candidates’ staff – writer Uladzimir Niakliajeŭ from the Tell the Truth civic movement.

According to Pavieł, before the elections, the opposition consisted of several different groups, the strongest of which were: the civic movement Tell the Truth with Uladzimir Niakliajeŭ, the civic movement of European Belarus with candidate Andrej Sannikaŭ and the United Civic Party and Jaraslaŭ Ramančuk as their candidate.

Elections were scheduled for December 19, 2010. There were nine candidates, which meant some revival for the society

“People who thought that nothing would happen in 2010 came out of their shells and got involved in activities,” said candidate Andrej Sannikaŭ in an interview for Radio Svaboda in June 2020.

However, the election was again won by Lukašenka, who gained 79.65% of the votes. According to various estimates, from 30 to 60 thousand people came to the capital’s main square. It was the biggest protest in 10 years. That same evening, everything ended with the suppression of demonstrations near the Government House (the Belarusian Parliament seat).

“If it weren’t for Ploscha in 2010, I would be doing completely different things now,” writes in his social media Aliaksiej Kazliuk, human rights defender from the non-governmental organisation Human Constanta. “In the morning, over 700 people were detained, and for the first time, I watched the so-called conveyor belt justice, three minutes per person.”

A specific culmination of that campaign was the imprisonment of all of Lukašenka’s counter-candidates, as well as some of their staff members. Some spent several days in prison, others several years.

This is how the protests were shown on state television. The film “Beating glass with iron”:

In the spring of 2011, everything collapsed. The ruble devalued, and people stood in queues at currency exchange for hours, trying to exchange rubles for dollars, euros or anything else. Inflation was above 100% for the first time since 2000.

Amid these events, an explosion took place in the Minsk metro, killing 15 people and injuring over 400. The authorities suggested that the opposition was to blame, the opposition blamed the authorities, but finally, two workers were sentenced to death.

In summer, disappointed students took to the streets and held silent protests in various cities until mid-autumn. It was also known as “the evolution of social media”.

“It was after the suppression of Ploscha in 2010 and the Arab Spring when social media was broadly used,” says Maksim Čarniaŭski, one of the demonstration organisers. “Before the elections, the authorities printed money to raise salaries, and after the elections, the ruble began to devalue. Most of all, young people who grew up using the internet were disappointed. The internet served as the simplest technology to connect people willing to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with how the country was run.”

The protests ended in the fall. In 2014, the ruble started to fall again, but no one took to the streets anymore – everyone discussed the new revolution in Ukraine and the confrontation with Russia that followed. As always, they compared it to the situation in Belarus.

It lasted for over a year, due to which the Belarussians increasingly turned to their national identity. For example, Lukašenka publicly expressed his feelings for the folk writer Vasiĺ Bykaŭ, and the state television promised to increase the number of programmes broadcasted in Belarusian language. Back then it was appropriate to emphasise that Belarus is not Russia. The media, such as the Naša Niva newspaper or the largest portal Tut.by, wrote about it.

Lukašenka flirted with Russia and the European Union simultaneously. Before the Mikalaj Statkievič.

It was during that time that blogger Eduard Paĺčys and his website 1863x.com quickly gained popularity. Paĺčys wrote about history and various ideologies explaining who is who on the contemporary Belarusian political scene.

“I wanted to place in a broader context those Russian propagandists who started attacking Belarus in 2014. They have lost touch with reality,” he explained in an interview for the Palitviazni.info website.

Many significant events took place at that time; for example, Sviatlana Alieksijevič, who later became an essential figure in Belarusian politics, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The authorities decided to build the first nuclear power plant in the country, which influenced the rhetoric of the Belarusian Green Party for a long time.

Meanwhile, supporters of the opposition parties were talking about a division, the old leaders were gradually leaving, and the new ones were scarce. Politicians had been discussing the election boycott since 2012, and in 2015 an analyst, Jury Drakachrust, argued that the opposition was unlikely to lead to significant changes.

“In 2015, the elections were not held at all; the opposition consciously decided not to take part in them,” said the 2010 candidate Andrej Sannikaŭ in an interview for Radio Svaboda.

The boycott was supported by many, but not all of the people. The People’s Referendum coalition registered Tacciana Karatkievič, but the official opposition did not recognize her as its own, writes historian Anton Liavickij. In his opinion, it was an indicator of changes in the opposition itself.

“The Belarusian opposition is undergoing an important transformation (…). The appearance of Karatkievič and its public image of a democratic alternative has to some extent buried the “culture of resistance” [in the face of the aggression of the current government – editor’s note]”.

What does Tacciana herself say about the opposition?

“There were two criteria for deciding whether or not you belong to the opposition: who you criticise and how do you describe yourself. If you speak Belarusian, it means for Belarussians that you are the opposition. At least it was like that until 2015. I wanted to change that, and I kept using national symbols (…). But apart from that, I talked a lot about changes I wanted to introduce for Belarusians to broaden the understanding of the opposition’s postulates: liberal reforms in the economy, fair elections and effective public administration.”

The elections took place on October 11, 2015. Lukašenka officially gained 83% of the votes, and the post-election demonstrations in Minsk were suppressed.

In the next few years, the Green Party often repeated that there were no political movements in Belarus. Politicians gradually became involved in “grassroots” work with people, e.g. dealing with water quality.

Liberalisation seemed to have come. The national culture was partially “restored”. T-shirts with folk motifs and other goods with national symbols have become very popular. In 2016, for the first time in 10 years, two representatives of the opposition entered the parliament.

But liberalisation is an illusory phenomenon under Lukašenka: blogger Eduard Paĺčys was accused of extremism and spent 2016 in prison. In the same year, the Ministry of Justice refused to register the Belarusian Christian Democracy party for the sixth time.

How did the biggest protests in the history of independent Belarus take place?

From memories of the Stalinist repressions to Telegram channels in 2017–2020

In the years that followed, it became clear that times had changed and that the opposition could not be left behind. The time for technology has come, as the candidate from 2006 Aliaksandr Milinkievič emphasises:

“The world has entered the digital age, and Lukašenka has less and less understanding of people educated in a modern way; about 90% of them obtain information by the internet. Eventually, he became the president of the past.”

The stormy events began in the winter of 2017. A concert organised underground by a musician Aliaksandr Pamidoraŭ ended in Minsk late in the evening. Several people were sitting at the table, and one of them was trying to convince the interlocutors: “Soon we will take people to the streets,” the person repeated again and again.

It was hard to believe: no one had protested on the streets for a long time and many people became sceptics. But the man was right: in February, people were taking to the streets of Minsk and other large and small towns. They protested against the presidential decree to tax all unemployed people. The demonstrations lasted for several months.

At the same time, on February 20, 2017, the Young Front organisation leader, Zmicier Daškievič, announced the commencement of an indefinite protest in the Kurapaty forest complex where mass shootings on Stalin’s orders were carried out in the 1930s.

Kurapaty in 2017. Source: Hanna Valyniec

Daškievič was against the construction of a business centre in that place, but it was already prepared for some major investments. The demonstration lasted for many days and gathered hundreds of people. Its apogee was when Zmicier climbed onto a tractor carrying a national white, red and white flag. As a result, the construction was stopped at the beginning of March, but some guards are still standing there in the wilderness.

In March, a criminal trial began against several dozen Biely Lehion (White Legion) organisation members, who were accused of organising mass riots. They were not found guilty and were released several months later.

In connection with an important date for the opposition and intelligentsia – the 100th anniversary of the first Belarusian declaration of independence (March 25, 1918) – political parties could not agree on organising a traditional protest march.

At the same time, three non-party members obtained city authorities’ approval for the event. They organised a celebration and a concert in Minsk centre – it was a blogger and city activist Anton Matoĺka, blogger Eduard Paĺčys (mentioned earlier) and the founder of the Symbal.by store and the populariser of national symbols, Paviel Bielaus. At the same time, they emphasised that the division of the opposition is exaggerated.

“We are not working on dividing Belarusians into good and bad. It is a mistake,” said Bielaus in an interview for the Tut.by portal.

One of the candidates for deputies in the parliamentary elections in 2019 spoke in the same vein:

“We take part in elections supporting each other, but we do not identify with any opposition structure. We have common interests: protection of the independence of Belarus,” explained a former member of Zebra and the Young Front, Paviel Juchnievič, in an interview for Naša Niva. However, no one from the opposition entered the parliament (in 2020, Paviel became a political prisoner).

At the same time, another story began, which was accidentally predicted in 2017 by former MP Voĺha Abramava. On the Tut.by portal, she described her futuristic book “Madame President” she planned to write.

“A woman as a president won’t stay in power for long. She will make reforms and lay the foundation (…), not necessarily bake cakes for Cabinet members, like Margaret Thatcher. But it will be a good government for people,” Abramava explained.

It is unlikely that Abramava knew a similar story would happen: in March 2019, Siarhiej Cichanoŭski decided to create a YouTube channel called “A Country to Live”, which became popular. It led to his arrest and the emergence of a future presidential candidate, his wife Sviatlana Cichanoŭskaja.

At the same time, another blogger emerged who would later become a significant figure in the 2020 protests – Sciapan Pucila. In 2018, he created the Nexta channel on Telegram, and in 2019 he organized a protest and published the film “Lukašenka. Criminal materials”. It was watched mainly by young people.

“Our generation does not always know how Lukashenko came to power,” explained Dzianis Lazaraŭ [name changed at his request – editor’s note], a 15-year-old student. “But bloggers like Sciopa [Pucila – editor’s note] talk about it, and we draw conclusions.”

Now, both Sciapan and his channel are considered extremist in Belarus, so the media write “a channel whose name cannot be spoken” instead of “Nexta”. And that is not a joke.

In September 2019, Deutsche Welle broadcasted an interview with a former Belarusian enforcer and former member of the same “death squad” mentioned by the 2001 candidate Hančaryk.

In an interview, Jury Haraŭski confirms that the missing politicians – Jury Zacharanka, Viktar Hančar and a businessman Anatoĺ Krasoŭski – were shot. Haraŭski himself fled from Belarus in 2018 and asked for political asylum in another country. But despite this confession, the matter of their disappearance in Belarus has never been clarified.

The year 2020 fundamentally changed the views of most Belarusians about their society and who should be called the opposition.

First, Belarusians organized themselves to help the victims of the coronavirus pandemic and were glad to be a genuine civil society. And then the political agenda became more important than the pandemic.

The elections were scheduled for August 9, 2020. The old opposition did not manage to reach an agreement to put forward a single candidate. But even without it, there were 15 applicants. Some of them were arrested before the elections in mid-2020 (banker Viktar Babaryka, blogger Siarhiej Cichanoŭski). Others were not registered and later accused of corruption. Belarussian authorities demanded the extradition of some of them in 2021, as well as an official and a diplomat Valieryj Capkala.

Sviatlana Cichanoŭskaja was the most popular candidate among the registered. She did not consider herself a politician for a long time, but huge crowds attended her election rallies. On August 9, 2020, Lukašenka officially gained over 80% of votes and began his sixth term as president. But something went wrong.

“I considered myself as a minority representative for almost 20 years, until August 9. We saw real numbers in the electoral commissions: in our district of Novaja Baravaja [in Minsk – editor’s note] there were 85% and 90% of votes in favour of Cichanoŭskaja,” says Ihnat Baranoŭski [name changed at his request – editor’s note].

There were many such commissions.

“The vast majority of voters supported Sviatlana Cichanoŭskaja as the only alternative to Lukašenka. They voted because her demands were clear: the tyrant’s resignation and new elections in a short time. (…) The protesting nation has become the real leader today”, writes Andrej Sannikaŭ, 2010 presidential candidate.

After the official results were announced, the crowd went out to the streets again – and kept demonstrating. “We didn’t know each other until this summer,” the demonstrators repeated a verse of a popular song. Later a film about protests titled “We didn’t know each other until this summer” was produced.

August protests in Minsk. Source: Hanna Valyniec

Those volunteers who helped to cope with the pandemic took care of helping the repressed ones. The old opposition and active citizens formed the Coordination Council for a peaceful power shift. Among its members were the Nobel laureate Sviatlana Alieksijevič, former diplomat and minister Paviel Latuška, philosopher Voĺha Šparaha, the representatives of workers, lawyers and many others – over 5,000 people. Some of them are currently abroad due to political persecution.

The protests lasted all autumn and did not finish even at the end of winter, although over 30,000 people had already been arrested. Some people were killed.

“Now we’re glad we were fined, not arrested. And that we were not beaten almost to death,” says about the winter mood Paviel Batujeŭ, an activist from Salihorsk.

70% of protesters took to the streets for the first time. Most of them were women, according to a study by Harvard University in the fall of 2020.

“People go the same way as we did before, but these are different faces. There is no continuity. Where are all those who once told us that we need to gather together to become strong?” asks the activist Illia Chorus.

„Dad, if you are going to work – I will be jailed”, – near the Minsk factory. Source: Vieranika Janovič

While the parties did not help and people coped on their own, at the beginning of March 2021, they waited with bated breath for the premiere of the film “Golden bottom” published by the team of a blogger Sciapan Pucila. Some call it “a resonance”, others consider it a collection of long-known facts. However, over three million people watched an hour and a half of footage that the authors called the investigation into Lukašenka’s wealth in the first three days after the release.

Another event, which was also supposed to be a mass event, gained less publicity. It was a demand for negotiations between Sviatlana Cichanoŭskaja and Aliaksandr Lukašenka. Voting on this issue took place on the Gołos platform, previously used for alternative counting of votes. However, only approximately 700 000 users voted in favour of the negotiations during the first five days since March 18.

If the negotiations were organized and were successful, there would be a power shift. The stability of the state in that period would be supervised by the People’s Anti-Crisis Administration (NAU) under the leadership of former diplomat Paviel Latuška.

Will NAU work be needed? No one can predict the effects of the political crisis, unlike the effects of the economic crisis: the volume of foreign debt breaks all records, and the possibility of investments has worsened due to the political situation.

What’s next? There is still new information on the internet about the repressions in the last eight months. The ByPol ​​initiative, created by former law enforcement officers, publishes video recordings of evidence of crimes committed by Belarussian militsiya and officers of other forces. Trials of protesters and civil society representatives are ongoing. As it turned out, you can even be sentenced for dancing in front of a militsiya car, as in the case of Ihar Bancar.

And while the tension in society is still high, there is no solution yet. Another breakthrough day for the opposition, and not only for it, may be March 25 – the unofficial celebration of independence, which so far has been an occasion for Belarusians to go out to the squares of their cities.

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