Thursday in Belarus was probably a breakthrough. Large workplaces joined the protests. Thousands of workers in the streets of Belarusian cities forced the regime to resign from its current tactics.
Alexander Lukashenka’s plan to maintain power after the overwhelming majority of Belarusians backed his competitor was deadly simple. The Loyal Central Electoral Commission announces his victory, and the trained and properly motivated units of the Ministry of the Interior and Internal Forces, supported in some places by the military, use violence on an unprecedented scale and intimidate those who dare to protest.
A similar operation carried out on the election evening of 19 December 2010 brought Lukashenka a success. The protests collapsed, and the traditional opposition did not recover after this pacification. However, 10 years later, the same scenario did not work.
Protests in Belarus continued and people ignored the information about the deaths and hundreds, if not thousands, of the wounded. The internet blockade applied on the evening of the election made it not immediately and not everyone found out about the scale of the violence.
But when access to the Internet was restored two days later, he was immediately flooded with thousands of videos of participants in the dramatic events. They show how officers from OMON and the Ministry of the Interior beat, abuse and humiliate people. The accounts of the girls who were threatened by Lukashenka’s soldiers with rape, the stories of men who walked through the “paths of health” – all this made Belarus terrified. However, this time fear did not make her apathy, but mobilized her to fight.
Workers greeted like heroes
Yesterday, dozens of workplaces announced a strike, and officials who went to calm the workers heard that there was no consent to violence. When yesterday striking workers from the Azoty plant in Grodno were walking in crowds through the streets of Grodno, Belarusians welcomed them as heroes. A crowd of several thousand gathered at the seat of the regional authorities chanted: “Go away! Go away!” And no one doubted who was the addressee of these words.
The scene that took place yesterday in the Grodnozilstroy enterprise was significant. One of the workers, during a discussion with the officials who came, suggests: “Let those who voted for Alexander Lukashenko raise their hands! There is no compulsion, nothing to be afraid of. “
Only officials raise their hands.
– And now: who voted for Cichanouska? The worker asks, and the whole crowd puts their hands up.
Lukashenka withdraws for the first time
The perspective faced by Lukashenka yesterday was as follows: massacre and street fights with hundreds of dead and paralysis of the entire country, or a step back. Lukashenka took a step back. Special units have been withdrawn. The protesters moved from the neighborhoods to the central streets and squares of the cities. Nobody burned them.
In the second half of yesterday, the regime media published a laconic message from the chairman of the Council of the Republic, Natalia Kachanova, a person from Lukashenka’s closest circle:
– The president heard the point of view of the workplaces and issued an order to investigate the cases of detentions made in the past days. Intensive work in this direction is already underway.
Indeed, releases from arrests and prisons continue throughout the country. OMON, and with it the violence, vanished from the streets. The force scenario, which seemed inevitable, was at least temporarily suspended. The protests are ongoing, and perhaps for the first time there is a real prospect of a peaceful victory for Belarusian democracy.