The dictatorship sharpened internal repression since its support for the Russian invasion. However, the majority of the people reject the war and express their discontent in different ways.
By Kazimierz Kryzhich, Minsk-Warsaw correspondent
Russian troops use Belarusian territory as a springboard for the invasion. Also, as a platform for some of the missiles it launches towards Ukrainian cities. In this way, Alexander Lukashenko sacrificed the Constitution and the sovereignty of the country in order to stay in power. Such is the payment of the Belarusian dictator to Vladimir Putin, for his support in August 2020. At that time, popular discontent, unprecedented in the country’s modern history, came close to bringing down the regime. The Kremlin’s help turned out to be a decisive factor in preventing the downfall of Lukashenko, who has already been in power for almost 30 years.
A puppet regime of Putin
Currently, Belarus is practically occupied by Russia, it is a puppet state under the external control of Moscow. The direct participation of the Belarusian army in the war is still in doubt only because, if realized, it would seriously undermine Lukashenko´s dictatorial power. It could cause problems in the army, massive actions of disobedience and popular resistance.
Along with the war, total repression
With the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, the repression in Belarus took on an absolute character. The political field of the country has been completely cleared of opposition parties and movements. Almost all NGOs have been closed down, even the environmental organization “Protection of Birds of the Homeland” has been branded as extremist. Alternative media have been destroyed and subscription to many of them carries criminal liability.
Every day there are searches, detentions and arrests
As of March 15, the number of political prisoners recognized by the international community reaches 1,083. Thousands more are under investigation and threatened with severe prison sentences. Politically motivated persecution has become massive in all spheres of social life. The total number of Belarusians repressed in the last two years has exceeded 50,000 people Some 200,000 were forced to flee the country. And these figures continue to grow steadily.
Persecution of the “disloyal” and “enemies of the people”
The authorities try to control all Belarusians. In labor groups, political denunciations and various forms of individual interrogations have been institutionalized, sometimes with the use of polygraphs. Databases of “disloyal” citizens and “enemies of the people” are compiled. This automatically leads to dismissal, no possibility of getting a new job, the threat of physical reprisals and criminal prosecution.
Despite everything, there is discontent and protests
The beatings, torture, murders and arrests that the dictatorship has been perpetrating during the last two years, have not succeeded in silencing society. Belarusians took to the streets of the cities where they live peacefully protesting against the war in Ukraine. In response, on February 27, in Minsk alone, about 800 people were arrested and sent to prison. They were beaten, harassed by the police, the army and many had administrative and criminal proceedings opened.
There is no reconciliation with the dictatorship
If now Belarus seems quite calm, this does not mean that the people have reconciled or surrendered to the mercy of the dictatorship. Underground newspapers are edited, flyers are printed and distributed, assistance is provided to the victims of repression and their families, in addition, they actively work on social networks.
Huge example of the railway workers
There are already examples of popular sabotage and “railway warfare.” Workers in the sector refuse to serve the Russian military transit. They do it with acts of sabotage, actions on the train tracks, destroying control and signaling systems. Thus, the railway communication between Belarus and Ukraine, which is the cheapest and fastest way to supply the invaders with fuel, military equipment and weapons, was interrupted.
Belarusians fighting the Russian aggression
Almost every day, Belarusians fleeing repression arrive in Ukraine to join the ranks of the “Kastus Kalinouski” battalion. The percentage of Belarusians fighting the Russian aggression against Ukraine is the highest, compared to volunteer formations from other countries.
An ultra-nationalist and xenophobic propaganda apparatus
They have mounted an inter-ethnic war that contributes to the militarization of society, the radicalization of nationalism, the growth of xenophobia and the dehumanization of entire peoples. The state propaganda of Russia and Belarus is inciting in every possible way hatred towards other states. They praise the “great leaders of the Russian world”: Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko, demanding the immediate destruction of the “fifth column” and other “democratic evil spirits”.
Falsehoods in the shadow of Stalinism
Portraits of Stalin were once again visible and some calls for the creation of a Gulag were heard. Along with frankly imperial-fascist rhetoric, crazy lies and cynical speculation about victory in World War II, Soviet symbols and the theme of socialism are actively used. This is a very serious challenge for the entire left movement.
Support for the Ukrainian people
It should be clearly understood that, at the moment, there is a threat coming from the pro-fascist regimes in Russia and Belarus. The support of the Ukrainian people on all fronts of their heroic struggle against Russian imperialism must be at the forefront of the world political agenda of the democratic left. It must be done without yielding an inch to Western imperialist expansionism, led by the US and NATO, fighting the right and the extreme right wherever they rear their heads. Together we will win!