Staunton, October 28 – Because the anti-Lukashenka protests have continued for so long, ever more Belarusian commentators have had the opportunity to weigh in not only about the most recent moves but also about their longer-term consequences. These should not be ignored. Below are brief summaries of five of the most important.
· Protest Attitudes Spreading into Government Hierarchy, Yegorov Says. Andrey Yegorov, head of the Minsk Center for European Transformation, says that it is important to understand that anti-Lukashenka attitudes are spreading from those who have gone into the streets into all social groups, including those in the regime itself, and that this development may prove critical in the coming days (ej.by/news/politics/2020/10/28/srabotal-li-ultimatum-tihanovskoy-i-chego-stoit-zhdat-dalshe.html).
· Moscow No Longer Seeking Union Now but Changes that Will Allow It to Dominate Belarus, Sivitsky Says. Arseniy Sivitsky, head of the Minsk Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Research, says that Moscow is no longer focusing on immediate union of Belarus with the Russian Federation but rather on constitutional reforms that will reduce the power of the Belarusian president and allow Russian forces to dominate a newly empowered parliament (ej.by/news/politics/2020/10/27/chto-zadumal-kreml-zachem-rossiya-prodvigaet-popravki-v-belorusskuyu.html).
· The traditional leaders of the Belarusian opposition have not so much disappeared from the political scene as fallen in line with the new leaders who have emerged in the course of the street demonstrations, some of the traditional leaders tell Deutsche Welle (dw.com/ru/kuda-delas-staraja-belorusskaja-oppozicija-i-kakova-ee-rol-v-protestah/a-55348037).
· Lukashenka has Lost Control over Political agenda, Vyachorka Says. Franak Vyachorka, who works closely with the leaders of the new opposition, says that they are not winning all the battles and won’t but that they have achieved the main thing: their actions and statements have cost Lukashenka control of the agenda and put him on the defensive where he reacts to what they do rather than the other way around (ehorussia.com/new/node/22014).
· Street Protests have Changed How Belarusians See Themselves, Korshunov Says. Gennady Korshunov, one of Belarus’ most senior sociologists, says that participation in the protests has changed how Belarusians view themselves. They have become a nation conscious of and jealous about their power and won’t be the same regardless how the current wave of popular upsurge ends. “The Belarusians are inventing themselves as a nation” (euroradio.pl/ru/sociolog-obshchestvo-nelzya-sbrosit-do-zavodskih-nastroek).