When Belarusian masses took to the streets to demand change after the fraudulent elections in autumn 2020, Belarusian leader Aljaksandr Lukashenka decided to remain in power at any cost. Public demands were met with mass arrests and violent crack downs on civil society, independent media and political opponents, many of whom have been forced into exile.
While most others supported the peaceful Belarusian protest-movement, Putin used the momentum to gain influence over his increasingly isolated counterpart. Lukashenka – who in 2014 refused to acknowledge Russia’s, and the Russia-backed rebels’, claims on Ukraininan territory – has now taken side with Russia, letting Putin wage a full scale war against Ukraine from belarusian grounds.
Belarusian society has expressed solidarity with Ukraine in different ways. Belarusian railway workers have even sabotaged chains of supplies to Russian troops based in Belarus – actions reminiscent of those undertaken by Belarusian partisans against occupying German forces during WWII. Interestingly, while Belarusian security services have been searching down the “culprits”, partisan resistance belong to the narratives of national traits often acclaimed by Lukashenka himself.
In the midst of all this, Lukashenka’s own administration have been reaching out for renewed dialogue with the West, seemingly behind Putin’s back. Meanwhile, the crack down on opponents and ordinary citizens continues. Belarusian human rights organizations report new arrests and verdicts on cases related to the mass protests in 2020 every day.
What are the dynamics of the war in the Belarusian context and what is it doing to the already conflict-torn Belarusian society? Which means of resistance are still active in Belarus and how can we support the democratic movement in these difficult times?
Andrei Yahorau, analyst at Center for European Transformation, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s adviser on development aid, member of the Coordination Committee of the EaP CSF Belarusian National Platform.
Inga Näslund, Program officer for Eastern Europe at Palmecenter.
Moderation: Jon Fridholm Östgruppen.
When: 12 May 2022, at 12.00-13.00
Where: Hörsalen, Sveavägen 68, Stockholm
Obligatory registration through biletto.
Coffee/Tea and sandwiches will be served.
Free of charge
Organizer: Östgruppen in cooperation with Palmecenter.
The Illustration is an artwork by Belarusian artist Siarhei Hrynievich