The pace of time is not the same. Sometimes it catches such a slow pace that it goes on passing year after year and sometimes it achieves such a fast pace that one day falls on an era. Belarus, a small country separated from the former Soviet Union, remains a witness to this interesting change of time.
The people of this country, who have been silently facing arbitrary dictatorship rule for two and a half decades, are seen to be awake for the last two and a half months. And when she wakes up, it has become so painful for dictator President Alexander Lukashenko to breathe peacefully.
Belarus is one of the 15 constituent countries of the Soviet Union broken in the early nineties. A population of less than one crore and an area of more than two lakh square kilometers. It is counted among the few countries in the world whose governments remain suspicious of the standards of democracy for their citizens, despite the independence, sovereignty and formality of regular elections.
People are making Slipper revolution against President of Belarus
Winds of democracy
Belarus received a new constitution in 1994 and Alexander Lukashenko became its first president. Since then there has not been a single election which is considered free and fair by international organizations. After every general election, Lukashenko continued to be declared the winner and the public continued to accept it without squirming. That series has just been broken.
Although active public resistance began in late June, its background had begun to be formed sometime back. It was started by businessman and blogger Sergey Tikhanovsky. He roamed different parts of Belarus and interviewed people and uploaded it to YouTube. In these interviews, people generally expressed their opinion against President Lukashenko.
As the videos of Tikhanovsky became popular, the restlessness of governance was increasing. But initially, he thought it best to ignore it. Meanwhile, an interesting thing happened that Tikhanovsky in one of his videos referred to the popular child poem ‘Monster Cockroach‘ in the region. This poem written by Russian poet Korney Chukovsky in 1921 speaks of a dictator insect that is very weak, but its terror is on the animals. A sparrow eats this insect or cockroach in the original poem, but Tikhanovsky brings a reference to the sandal. The meaning is that the cockroach is hit with slippers.
This image became such a click among the common people that after some time the mass resistance movement started called Slipper Revolution. But this is a matter of time later. Before that, Lukashenko’s government could not ignore the video of Tikhanovsky. In late May he was taken into custody and then declared as a foreign agent.
One reason for this action was also that the presidential elections had come to a close and Lukashenko could not let these activities that increase dissatisfaction continue. The election was on 9 August. The government arrested the presidential candidate, Victor Babarika, accused of conspiring with foreign elements. The result was that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the wife of Sergey Tikhanovsky, got herself registered as a presidential candidate.
Things became more difficult for Lukashenko. He said the country is not ready for a female president at this time. But the mood of the country was reflected in the increasing public support for Svetlana. The government was also accusing them of causing instability in Belarus in connivance with foreigners, but the people were no longer affected by these government charges.
Meanwhile, elections were held on August 9 and in the evening, the results of exit polls were announced on state TV channels, saying that President Lukashenko received 80.23 percent votes. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya received 9.9 percent of the vote. This huge margin of victory also left no doubt in the minds of the supporters of the government.
As a result, people came out of their homes to fight the war. Svetlana went out of the country to avoid a possible arrest and a series of protests began on the streets. Till now, these protests are peaceful but public repression is so strong that it has become difficult for the government to govern. Mass arrests are taking place, but Svetlana’s video messages are inspiring people and the Coordination Committee formed by them is leading the mass resistance movement. However, Lukashenko is still not ready to lay down arms, hoping for open support for Russia.
What will happen?
Russian President Putin has come out in his support. Democracy is not an issue for Putin. Recently he has also been accused of poisoning the country’s main opposition leader. Putin has not only announced a loan of one and a half-billion dollars to Belarus but has also said that if needed, he can send his people to maintain law and order situation there. Its opponents do not have the direct support of any major country in the world.
Therefore, what will be the result of all this, it cannot be said now. But the people of Belarus, through their struggle, are telling the world that apart from victory and defeat, the battle fought with full force for their legitimate rights gives the satisfaction of different levels. Such satisfaction beyond which every sacrifice becomes small.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own