Editorial: Piotra Murzionak – Revolution and Nation (web-magazine “Kultura. Natsyja”, N26, December 2020, pp.16-20, www.sakavik.net)

The Revolution is going on in Belarus. Yes (!), because it is nothing but an attempt to change the existing system into a new one. Belarusian people took to the streets peacefully to change the authoritarian system formed over 26 years ago by the country’s first president, Mr. Alexander Lukashenka, the former director of a “soviet state farm”, and today the last dictator of the Europe. Indeed, there are no more examples in Europe of countries where a person has been in power for so long. There are such countries in the world, but they are not all European: African (Cameroon, where the same man is in power for 45 years; Equatorial Guinea – 41; Republic of Congo – 36; Uganda – 34; Chad – 30; Eritrea -27, Rwanda – 26) or Asian (Iran – 39, Cambodia – 35; Kazakhstan – 28; Tajikistan – 28). In most cases, the presence of such “long-lived” leaders indicates undemocratic order in such countries.

But, apparently, the revolution did not begin because of the long rule of the country by one man. What happened in Belarus then? Why did people suddenly begin to demand the release of political prisoners, new fair elections, freedom – goals that cannot be achieved without the removal from power of the unchanging authoritarian leader of Belarus.

However, Mr. Lukashenka became such a dictator not just this year. His dictatorial manners have been noticed by many conscious people from the national milieu right from the very beginning of his coming to power. They manifested themselves in taking definite steps to dispose of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus; in changing the Constitution and state symbols through provoked referendums held against the background of the promised fight against corruption and economic union with Russia; in the brutal suppression of any protests, especially in 2006 and 2010, after which one could speak of an almost complete defeat of the opposition; in the gradual destruction of all Belarusian and national-conscious, which in many ways can be qualified as an ethnocide of the Belarusian people. Having received unprecedented presidential powers, electing a submissive parliament, creating loyal creative unions and the media, adopting laws that disallow such actions as “do not stand and clap”, “you can’t walk with white-red-white balloons”, “you can’t walk on the sidewalks and peacefully to protest”, and today it is impossible for more than three people to stand in their yard – Mr. Lukashenka “forced” Belarusians to finally take to the streets.

It turned out (!) that all our neighbors and not only them, and also Belarusians around the world felt great pride for the Belarusian people, who “slept” for so long, being under the oppression of historical conditions, circumstances, habitual tolerance, etc., and now for more than 4 months in a row people take to the streets demonstrating his dignity and expressing their determination to get rid of tyranny.

How did Lukashenka bring Belarusians to a boiling point, in a country that many people in the post-Soviet space set as an example of cleanliness, order and a good life? Is it true that, by 2020, Lukashenka did satisfy the majority of Belarusian society with his harsh methods of governing the country? Or it may be that what very gradually seemed to accumulate against the background of many years of lies and promises suddenly erupted into a revolution only today?!

I believe that the regime’s contemptuous attitude towards the people during the COVID epidemic did not become the impetus for the revolution, but was only its background. The main reasons for the Belarusian revolution were resentment and feelings of deceived people during and after the presidential election, and the second reason was pain, injustice and humiliation during peaceful protests, when people felt and saw violence, excessive use of force and reluctance of the authorities to recognize protesters as human beings. For Mr.Lukashenka people on the streets are “thugs, rats, mercenaries of the Western secret services.” The inhuman dictator and the murderous dogs, enclosed by the balaclavas he bred to defend his immense power, cause nothing but disgust, anger, and unforgiveness.

In almost all post-Soviet countries, revolutions took place at one time or another, which were called symbolically colored, but in essence they were for the cause of national liberation. This indicates, first of all, that those revolutions said “welcome” to national freedom, and “goodbye” – to the Soviet heritage. The Belarusian Revolution of 2020 can be defined as one for national-liberation but only conditionally – in the sense that the liberation of the country from the malicious and cunning dictator with pro-Soviet thinking can be transferred only by the word “liberation (from this dictator”). However, once Lukashenka leaves, much of the same robot-like minset and robot-like officials will continue to function. National liberation from the past legacy will not happen immediately. It is unlikely that the lustration of “robots” will help and whether it will even be fully justified to all perpetrators intimidated by the dictator (except those who committed crimes)? Will a poisoned society / population itself be cleansed during the revolution and turn into a real mature nation? It may be. But not immediately.

The revolution in 1991, when Belarus gained independence, could be formally called as one for liberation. But it, in fact,somehow passed by most Belarusians relatively unnoticed. Thus, the word liberation does not quite correspond to today’s Belarusian revolution. However, you can’t call it national as well, despite the fact that it is being held under national flags. The bearers of the revolution and its leaders do not carry national slogans and do not set goals aimed at resolving the issue of some national idea and building a nation-state. The main demands of protesters is to release political prisoners, investigate and to punish crimes committed against the people during the protests, and to hold new elections. These are completely democratic demands. At the same time, without their resolution it is impossible to even dream of coming to the final realization of the people’s national identity for the future. That is why I call the people’s democratic revolution that began in Belarus “the Revolution of Hope 2020″, which will eventually pull our beautiful European country out of colonial Eurasian slavery and allow it to develop in a civilized way. Then, to seal the future of the feeling of Belarusian nationhood, it will be necessary to declare the achievement of victory in this democratic revolution. But how to achieve it?

To this point, it does not seem that there are the necessary prerequisites in place for this. The general public seemingly is not convinced that Lukashenka did loose the election. Yes, there is plenty of evidence that the election was rigged, but even an independent vote count on the “Voice Project” still gave Lukashenka some advantage, not 80%, as announced by the CEC, but a little over 60%. It is unlikely that information about election fraud was sufficiently reported by independent media to the entire population.

Despite hundreds of thousands of protesters in Minsk, the rest of the population of the city of two million is watching the demonstrations from their balconies. Obviously, such packed protests are a great success, testifying to the awakening of the nation. After all, until recently, Mr. Mikalai Statkevich could take up to 1,000 demonstrators to the streets. And yet, if before it was thought that a hundred thousand protesters in the capital would be enough for the dictatorial regime to retreat or react with a change, now, according to Mrs. S.Aleksievich (Charter-97, December 5, 2020), it would be desirable to see a million protesters on the streets of the capital.The feeling that the revolution has slowed down and one of the reasons for this is that people, who take to the streets, are deprived of many leaders – many of them abroad, others in prisons. Those horizontal protest groups that are self-organizing in their neighborhoods are not yet able to merge into one general protest.

The situation leveled off in December 2020 after 4 months of protests because the protests subsided, the regime drove people of the new opposition wave into more enclosed yards. It is very doubtful that they will soon be able to escape from there. By 2020 nationally conscious forces had been driven into the ghetto. During the current situation of status quo (if nothing changes), there will be a sweep among the people of the new wave during which “black and olive” servants-bandits of the regime with balaclavas on their faces will pay tribute to the dictator. Belarusians do not have weapons, and if they did, the example of defeat in the armed struggle for national freedom in Chechnya clearly shows that guerrilla warfare will doubtly achieve success nowadays. Moreover, Belarus, as once A.Adamovich declared to it be the “Belarusian Vendee”, in fact, it remains so to this point. In the country, which in the past was the place of pilgrimage for retired Soviet officers, where Lukashenka, a follower and diligent student of former Soviet satraps (Mazur, Masherov, Kozlov) still rules, there is the Stalin line, while peaceful protesters who want fair democratic change are fenced off by barbed wire. It is very symbolic that 300,000 people under the white-red-white flags, which they raised as a symbol of change, are not allowed to Stella in the center of Minsk, because these national flags, according to the dictator, were used by collaborators during World War II. The barbed wire wall that surrounded Stella became a new wall between the new and the old, between East and West, between Byzantium and Rome. And the Belarusian army these days is preparing for the Russian-Belarusian military exercise “West-2021”.

After several months of continuous resistance, which has not yet led to the desired changes, foremostly, the expected departure from the country by airplane with the flight number “one”, the revolution is entering a chronic phase, where the authorities will have the upper hand. So far, none of the dictator’s immediate entourage has resigned. The extraordinary session of the Belarusian Parliament announced in September to consider violence in the country’s streets did not take place for obvious reasons. Lukashenka has started his next hit game with changes to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus – he wants to buy time.

It seems that the existing sentiments and hopes for the resumption and intensification of protests may possibly not come true by spring. It is obvious that tolerant and prudent Belarusians, who have not yet joined the revolution, decided to wait for this moment, so as not to become even worse than it is under Lukashenka. Supposedly having a monthly salary of “500” (dollars), when in reality only”300″, there is a feeling that workers can go outside only when it gets really bad for them, at least, with lower numbers than the above.

It seems that the revolution lacks the reserves to shift the situation in its favor. There have been many episodes in the history of Belarus when the development of the nation was associated with the influence of external forces or with the weakening of the power of the Eastern Empire. We recall that the creation of the BNR and the BSSR was largely due to the collapse of tsarist Russia, the October coup and the German occupation, rather than internal forces. The Belarusian revival in the 1930s took place against the background of a new economic policy in the USSR, and the 180-degree reversal of the Bolsheviks in national policies was caused by their desire to carry out a world proletarian revolution.This was the reason for the subsequent defeat of the national democratic forces, which prevented them from achieving their goals at that time. Belarusianization took place even during the Second German Occupation during the last World War. The second wave of Belarusian revival in the late twentieth century was the result of the collapse of the USSR and the weakness and chaos in Russia, which was accompanied by declaration of national sovereignty by all 15 post-Soviet republics throughout 1991.

Is Russia weak and indifferent today in relation to Belarus? Obviously, not. Russia is the main influential “regulator” for Belarusians for the last two centuries. She keeps her hand on the pulse of events in Belarus and it is clear that Russia is satisfied with Lukashenka for the main reason of fearing color revolutions. This is clearly stated in Putin’s decree №683 “Concerning National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation” (Moscow, December 31, 2015). In addition, Russia is striving for hegemony in the post-Soviet space and recent events in the South Caucasus have clearly demonstrated this (the example of Ukraine is before everyone’s eyes).

So, who can help Belarusians regain their rights to life, freedom of thought, assembly, election? Various European countries, the United States, and Canada have adopted and voiced relevant statements, acts that not only disgrace Lukashenka’s regime, but also specifically restrict the leaders of this regime through appropriate economic and political sanctions. To inspire people to further struggle there are now hopes for forces, which are concentrated around the national leader of S.Tikhanovskaya. These forces are primarily all fresh political emigrants and the Belarusian diaspora, which was settled in Europe and America during the last two waves of emigration during the post-war and post-Soviet era. They all seem to be working together now. This is evidenced by the recent World Congress of Belarusians, as well as by numerous protests by Belarusians abroad in the streets of many cities around the world, which are not subsiding and taking place in parallel with the protests in Belarus itself.

It is obvious that the alliance of Belarusians abroad is currently the only force that can change the status quo in Belarus. Will it be decisive and effective, as this happened in the case for the Polish nation at the end of World War I when Polish emigrees decided the fate of restoring their home country to Polish statehood? At least, this example gives a positive answer. Obviously, the revolution cannot be exported, but Belarusians abroad, who make up that sixth part of the Belarusian nation, they identify with their own people in Belarus and they are Belarusian-minded. Any suggestion about the export of the revolution does not apply here. Belarusians who live abroad can and must support the current Belarusian revolution through both political and economic means. The author of this article has not yet to this point been a supporter of economic sanctions, which many consider an effective mechanism for influencing the ruling elite. However, the analysis above shows that if the economic situation does not deteriorate, primarily for internal reasons, the regime can survive, the democratic revolution might be defeated, and the implementation of the national idea will be postponed for some time again.

Categories: Зьнешнія адносіны, Нацыя Беларусы, Праект "РАЗАМ", Слова рэдактара

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