Staunton, September 20 – The NEXTA telegram channel, which initially positioned itself as a neutral news agency on Belarusian developments but has come to be viewed as “the voice of the Belarusian revolution” (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/09/belarus-first-telegram-revolution-and.html), has now crossed the Rubicon.
In response to repressive measures by the police in Brest and Brest Oblast, it has published the names of just over 1,000 siloviki there, something that defeats the Lukashenka regime’s efforts to keep its police anonymous and invites defections from their ranks and attacks on them by Belarusian activists (t.me/nexta_live/11280 and ehorussia.com/new/node/21714).
The telegram channel has published smaller lists in the past, but it promises it will disseminate even more if the authorities engage in more repressive actions against anti-Lukashenka demonstrators and by implication if the powers that be try to shutter NEXTA’s operations.
Minsk has been unsuccessful in blocking NEXTA even when it had the assistance of the Russian government. The two did manage to force it off of Facebook, but its Poland-based father-and-son team continue to operate on a telegram channel. With this action, NEXTA has raised the stakes for both the Lukashenka regime and itself.
Without a channel like NEXTA, the anti-Lukashenka Belarusians would find it far more difficult to continue to assemble for protests given that the movement has not led to the rise of leaders with networks of subordinates who can bring people into the streets. Instead, people in the Coordinating Committee have been issuing statements to NEXTA and other channels.