Staunton, September 28 – In most cases, anti-government demonstrations either radicalized with time or fade away as people lose interest or hope. But the situation in Belarus is different, Igor Klyamkin says. The protesters have not radicalized as many had expected, but they have not faded away either.
Instead, the senior Russian commentator says, the Belarusian people have become ever more united by “the ethnic of steadfast resistance to the dictatorship.” They don’t intend to turn to violence but they also do not intend to back down. In this situation, the dictatorship is proving “powerless” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F71D5789D8B4).
Lukashenka won’t back down, but he can’t rely on his siloviki to suppress what has become a movement of almost the entire population, Klyamkin says. “The Kremlin has helped Lukashenka formally legalize the extension of his illegitimate presidency” lest it allow the precedent of a population removing a dictator to be set in a neighboring country.
Moscow’s interest now, the Moscow commentator suggests, is to have Lukashenka “legalize his departure by promised constitutional reforms that would require new elections. But Lukashenka’s interest is that his promise be forgotten.” For that to happen, the protesters must go home soon so that he can present himself as the victor.
Yesterday, in Sunday’s massive demonstrations, Klyamkin concludes, the Belarusian people showed that they aren’t going to be provoked into something Lukashenka could use an excuse to crack down; but they also demonstrated that they remain deeply committed to pursuing the ouster of the dictator.
While it is not impossible that Lukashenka could step up repression and radicalize or disperse the population for a time, the animating principle behind the protests in Belarusian cities is that the people have had enough of a dictatorship and want to reclaim their country. That commitment, far more than any dramatic action, ia the real threat to Lukashenka and his backers.