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16.11. Den Solidarity s Běloruskem




































































































- the Last Dictatorship in Europe

The situation in Belarus has been widely discussed lately. More frequently than ever the media are giving publicity to the regime referred to as the last dictatorship in Europe. Thus, the contemporary Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (Александр Григорьевич Лукашенко) is considered to be the last dictator on the continent.


Since 1994, when he was democratically elected to the office, he has seized total power. Today Belarus is a totalitarian police state with all the consequences. Violations of human rights are a daily routine: arrests of political opponents, independent journalists and student activists, absence of independent media, censorship, brutal dispersions of peaceful demonstrations, ill-treatment of political prisoners, and last but not least disapperances of people linked to the opposition.



Electing Lukashenko as the President and the Transition to Dictatorship


In 1990 the Soviet Union collapsed and Belarus declared independence. On  December 8th 1991 the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed an agreement establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States. The foundation of a democratic state was layed.


Vyacheslav Kebich was the Prime Minister at that time and in presidential elections 1994 he became the main rival of Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko, the chairman of the anti-corruption committee of the Belarusian Parliament, became popular as a strict opponent to corruption and bribery. As early as then he was regarded by his political rivals as a dangerous populist.


During his presidential campaign he endeared himself to the public thanks to keeping contact with voters. And he has kept the sense of communication with ordinary people as his main pre-eminence up the present day.

Not long after taking up office Lukashenko replaced Belarusian historical state symbols with symbols used in the Soviet era.


However apolitical it may try to pretend to be, the regime established by Lukashenko can be with no doubt rated as a successor of Soviet totalitarianism. Besides totalitarian mechanisms of power it also adopts external features of Soviet regime. Belarus is the last state where KGB operates not only as an organisation but also as a phenomenon.


Lukashenko promoted Russian to a second national language, thereby pursuing the process of russification initiated in the Soviet era. The President of Belarus argued for his act claiming that Belarusian is a "poor" language unable to express any "great things". Belarusian has been restricted and is vanishing from  schools, in the Parliament and in common life of people not only in urban areas but also in the country.


In autumn 1996 the President announced a referendum to be held, raising questions on changes of the constitution, land purchase and sale, state administration system and its financing. In fact it should have resulted in a complete seizure of all thinkable powers for the presidential office. As a response the Supreme Council and the Constitutional Court initiated a procedure of presidential impeachment. However, after direct intervention from Moscow the highest officials of the Council and the Court were persuaded to agree on holding such a referendum (the way it was achieved was illegal). The results were not recognised by no other government but Moscow.


After these changes the President has got the right to appoint one third of members of the Parliament, its Chairman, and one half of the Constitutional Court judges. The main privilege he obtained is his right to pass presidential decrees with the legitimacy of law. That makes him a virtually unlimited ruler. The real consequence of such changes implies that every member of the Parliament and the Constitutional Court has been approved by the President.


The last significant event in Lukashenko’s ruling era were the presidential elections held in March 2006. According to the official results Lukashenko won the third term gaining 82.6% of the vote, while his main rival and a joint candidate of the Opposition Alyaksandr Milinkevich was given no more than 6%. Independent observers have deemed the elections rigged and declared they failed to meet democratic standards. One of the reasons is that the authorities conceded scarcely any chance to oppositional self-presentation in the media and their meetings had been frequently banned. Crowds of demonstrators rallying after the elections were brutally dispersed.


The Opposition in Belarus

Despite all the obstructions by the state authorities rather strong opposition has formed in Belarus.

Basically every party, organisation, or individual disapproving of the contemporary regime’s politics might be considered opposition. Therefore, maybe suprisingly, even the communists are in the opposition. Recently, the opposition forces have been acting in cooperation, which led to nomination of a single candidate in the last elections. Alyaksandr Milinkevich is the leader of the United Democratic Forces of Belarus.

The Opposition in Belarus is facing tough oppression. Opposition activists as well as other liberal-minded people are being arrested, victimised and threatened, they are beaten and starved in jails.

Yet these are not still the worst state repressions which the opposionists have to face. Several people who dared to criticise the President are now missing in Belarus. They disappeared from day to day and nobody knows what has happened to them. The well-known names are: Viktar Hanchar, Anatoly Krasouski, Yury Zakharanka, and Zmitry Zavadski


The Day of our Solidarity

Representatives of the civil society in Belarus have proposed holding the Day of Solidarity on the 16th day of every month.


On September 16th 2005 the police in Minsk dispersed a peaceful demonstration and seized participants’ national flags. On that day Nikita Sasim, one of the Zubr movement leaders, raised a flag made of his jeans shirt, symbolising protest against the dictatorship.


All events held on this day remind us of four people who laid down their lives for free Belarus.

On 16th of every month at 8 p.m. of Belarusian time all the people who are disapproving of the contemporary situation in Belarus switch off the lights and light up a candle in their windows. It is a symbol of hope for new, free and democratic Belarus – Belarus without Lukashenko.


This action was proclaimed by famouse belarussian rock musicians, leaders of democratic opposition and candidate for president. - Alyaksandr Milinkevich


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