Staunton, September 16 – Over the last month, sociologist Andrey Vardomatsky says on the basis of focus group interviews with protesters, Belarusians have ceased to be afraid of the authorities, they do not require leaders to direct them in their protest activity, and are prepared for a long struggle.
In short, the NOVAK laboratory researcher says, there have been “fundamental changes” in the population and the emergence of a genuine and strong “Belarusian civil society” which no longer believes it needs a strong hand to govern it (belsat.eu/ru/news/grazhdanskoe-obshhestvo-rozhdaetsya-vo-dvorah-v-chem-novizna-i-osobennost-belorusskih-protestov/).
This new attitude of self-confidence finds its expression in the remarks of many of those surveyed that being detained by the authorities for 15 days is no longer a reason not to protest. Instead, the threat of such punishments is part of life and can even be the occasion for a redoubling of efforts, Vardomatsky says.
And what is especially important, he continues, is that this process of the formation of an active civil society is occurring in each yard around apartment blocks and thus has become beyond the reach of the central authorities. They can no longer hope to direct or control these shifts in public attitudes.
In the future, this growth of local cooperation is going to become “the prototype of local self-administration.” But now, it means that the failure of the protesters to achieve a breakthrough is not leading to apathy but to a recommitment to protest as long as it takes to oust Lukashenka and change Belarus forever.