Belarus: Authoritarianism is Also a Virus

The parody of the presidential elections comes with repression and fraud.

In a criminal and irresponsible action, President Alexander Lukashenko called for elections in the middle of a pandemic, risking the life of the population for his own interests. But things did not turn out the way he intended and he faced a strong response from the people, with protests and mobilizations. Once again, the authoritarian nature of the regime became clear. It responded with a true political hunt against the opposition, repressing and arresting hundreds of people. The executors of the presidential orders are the State Security Committee, the KGB and the police.

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Before the beginning of the detentions, Lukashenko insinuated that one of his opponents in the elections was involved in a fraud surrounding the company Private Leasing. Further investigations were indeed connected to the activities of this company. Though he didn’t name him, he was referring to Viktor Babariko, an ex-banker and candidate with 368,000 supporting signatures who was detained, just like his son, under a money laundering accusation. This is just the tip of the iceberg, since there are hundreds of persecuted and/or detained activists. This furthered the usual authoritarianism, like the case of blogger Sergey Tihanovskij. It is a reaction similar to the one Vladimir Putin had in Moscow towards his opponents in the elections, in his attempt to consolidate his power.

It is worth remembering that Lukashenko is in power since 1994, he has eliminated the division of powers by creating the “National Assembly” and leads a regime with an iron fist against anyone who does not follow his orders, especially the workers and people’s movement. This new attack takes place during the spread of a pandemic in a country with a president that denies the impact of Covid-19, has left the population unprotected and even held a military parade on Victory Day. Along with the infections and deaths, social inequality has also spread. While a handful of businessmen and state bureaucrats enrich themselves, most of the population falls into poverty.

Clarifying that we have nothing to do with the bourgeois, liberal and bureaucratic candidates, we defend neither their politics nor their program. However, what is happening with these politicians is clear: a new attack against the most elemental democratic liberties is underway. We condemn the governmental violence ordered by Lukashenko. We demand the end of repression and the release of political prisoners. Free elections cannot exist under pressure and fraud, when overseers are cast aside and fear is imposed. We demand the workers have the freedom to mobilize and organize when and as they please. We demand freedom of speech for the people of Belarus.

The population is fed up with decades of authoritarianism. Belarus needs a great mobilization of the people for freedom, a general strike for social rights and a left political alternative to make Lukashenko leave. We also need international solidarity with the people of Belarus.