Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Lukashenka Regime's Talk about ‘Smaller but More Radical’ Protests Typical but Dangerous Development, Yeliseyev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 18 – Andrey Yeliseyev, founder of the EAST Center, says the ideological trope being pushed by Belarusian officials that the anti-Lukashenka protests are becoming smaller but more radical is typical but dangerous because it suggests the powers are preparing provocations and seeking to justify them in advance.

            Alyaksandr Lukashenka introduced this notion a week ago, and since then, Yeliseyev says, it has been pushed by the Belarusian KGB (thinktanks.by/publication/2020/10/17/kgb-gotovyatsya-provokatsii-s-tselyu-inspiratsii-protestnogo-dvizheniya.html and thinktanks.by/publication/2020/10/18/andrey-eliseev-ritorika-pro-malochislennye-no-radikalnye-protesty-eto-klassicheskiy-tryuk.html).

            Suggesting that the protesters are becoming more radical seems plausible given that those who remain in the streets may be the most angry and committed, but Yeliseyev argues that by suggesting that the demonstrators are about to attack the authorities in some way, the authorities provide themselves with a justification for taking pre-emptive action.

            But there is no evidence that the protesters are becoming more radical, the analyst continues. Instead, this is a typical “trick” by the powers that be to justify the crackdown that Lukashenka very much wants.  And he points to examples from Uzbekistan’s Andizhan massacre in 2006 and elsewhere to make his point.

            By promoting this idea, which all too many journalists and diplomats are picking up without reflecting on whether it is in fact true, the Belarusian powers like authoritarian rulers elsewhere is setting the stage for a serious crackdown. Indeed, such talk is one of the surest early warning signs of exactly that, Yeliseyev concludes. 

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