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Misiles tierra-aire en Gvardeysk, cerca de Kaliningrado, Russia, en 2019.Vitaly Nevar / Reuters

Hace 100 años, la región polaca de Pomerania, una estrecha franja de tierra al oeste de Polonia, separaba dos posesiones alemanas no colindantes: el territorio principal de la República de Weimar al oeste, y Prusia oriental, con su capital Königsberg. Suspendida entre ambas se encontraba la ciudad libre de Danzig.

Después de la II Guerra Mundial, la Unión Soviética se anexionó Königsberg, que fue rebautizada como Kaliningrado en honor a un revolucionario bolchevique. Ahora, la ciudad vuelve a estar separada de su nave nodriza por un corredor conocido como el corredor de Suwalki, una franja de tierra llana de 65 kilómetros de longitud en la frontera polaco-lituana, que debe su nombre a una ciudad polaca situada al sur del confín interterritorial.…  Seguir leyendo »

Displaying national Belarusian white-red-white colours as part of a demonstration in Krakow, Poland for the global Day of Solidarity with Belarus, on February 7, 2021. Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A majority of Belarusians want Aliaksandr Lukashenka out. His regime is incapable of ensuring a decent standard of living and can no longer draw on substantial financial support from Russia, although Moscow continues to support Lukashenka politically. But, despite all this, a Belarusian revolution has stalled, and some would say failed.

Lukashenka’s regime is maintaining control through large-scale repression, with reports widespread of the government killing protesters or putting them behind bars for years, as well as lower level fines and arrests of people simply for wearing red and white trousers or flying the flag of Japan which features the same colours as the Belarusian protest movement.…  Seguir leyendo »

La caída del muro de Berlín, hace más de 30 años, no abrió el paso a la libertad y a la democracia en toda Europa. Aún existe un país donde el KGB ha mantenido su nombre y su actividad, las estatuas de Lenin y Stalin siguen en pie y los derechos humanos son sistemáticamente vulnerados. Es Bielorrusia. Allí ha reinado el silencio durante décadas, viviendo de espaldas a la realidad europea y al avance del mundo.

Sin embargo, la descarada manipulación de las elecciones presidenciales del pasado 9 de agosto provocó unas masivas protestas contra Alexandr Lukashenko, conocido como "el último dictador de Europa".…  Seguir leyendo »

Police detain a protester during an opposition rally over the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, on Nov. 8. (AP)

Belarus’s president, Aleksandar Lukashenka — who still clings to power three months after an election he claims to have won, but which most observers are certain he lost — evidently hopes he can win a war of attrition against his country’s entrenched opposition. A remarkably broad coalition of protesters is digging in for a long winter, as they continue to try to deny him the power he seeks. They have already won a crucial battle: Belarusians have tuned out their dictator.

Most Belarusians don’t watch state TV

In a survey of media consumers in Belarus, conducted in late September by King’s College London and Sociolytics, fewer than one-third of respondents said they watch the country’s four state-owned TV stations with any regularity, and 45 percent said they never get any news from TV.…  Seguir leyendo »

The opinion poll was conducted using the Computer Assisted Web Interview (CAWI) method and sent to a diverse grouping that corresponds to the general structure of Belarus' urban population in gender, age, and the size of respondents’ town of residence. The survey was completed by 899 Belarus citizens and the statistical margin of error does not exceed 3.27%.

1. How Belarusians say they voted shows Lukashenka did not win

Although unlikely to be ever proven – given recent allegations of ballots being destroyed - the anecdotal evidence of vote rigging in the election is damning, especially when considering The Central Election Commission in Belarus has claimed Lukashenka secured 80.1 percent of the vote, with Tsikhanouskaya receiving only 10.1 percent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Natalia Fedosenko/TASS via Getty Images An opposition supporter during the March of Seniors in Minsk, Belarus, October 19, 2020

On Saturday, thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities across the United States in a reprise of the women’s marches that began on President Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day. The next day, a Norwegian member of parliament nominated three women marchers for the Nobel Peace Prize. But they were not American, they were Belarusian: Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, Maria Kolesnikova, and Veronika Tsepkalo. They have led an extraordinary social movement that, both before and since the rigged elections that took place in August, has refused to back down in the “struggle for fair elections and for inspiring peaceful opposition against the illegitimate regime in Belarus,” in the words of the citation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters march during a rally in Minsk, Belarus, on Sunday. (AP)

Belarusians are coming together in an unprecedented mass movement for democracy. The harder that dictator Alexander Lukashenko tries to maintain his power, the more it is ebbing away.

As the candidate of the opposition movement, I won the majority of the votes in the Aug. 9 presidential election — based on detailed analysis of the election results by several independent groups, which managed to scrutinize voting records in a large number of precincts despite massive government fraud. Since then he has deployed security forces against peaceful demonstrators and tried to blanket the country — assisted by Russian-supplied journalists — with lies and propaganda.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yesterday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko met with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, in Sochi to discuss closer integration. The ongoing political unrest in Belarus — a small country that is politically close to Russia and borders it on its west — has led some observers to speculate Putin might intervene militarily to prevent Belarus’s government from being overthrown.

Putin faces his own domestic problems, with Russia in the middle of a deep recession. Intervention might be popular with the Russian public, just as Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine was. However, as my research shows, this is unlikely: Ordinary Russians don’t like military adventures in bad economic times.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman with her child watches in Minsk on Sept. 8, 2020, as police officers detain protesters during a rally for the detained Maria Kolesnikova, a member of the opposition Coordination Council that is seeking talks with President Alexander Lukashenko on a transition of power in Belarus. (AP) (AP)

For the past month, since the Aug. 9 election, Belarusians have engaged in daily protests and strikes across the entire country. Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’s president since 1994, claimed a reelection victory with 80 percent of the vote, but his critics in Belarus — along with foreign governments, the European Union and independent organizations — say the election was rigged.

Lukashenko blocked the Internet for several days after the election, and riot police arrested some 7,000 people. Reports quickly emerged that security forces were beating and torturing these (mostly young) men and women, and there were allegations of rape. Hundreds of thousands in Belarus are demanding that Lukashenko “leave.”…  Seguir leyendo »

If Americans weren't consumed with the historic political contest at home, they would be riveted to the drama unfolding in Belarus.

That's where an unlikely trio of women has led a mass pro-democracy uprising aiming at toppling Alexander Lukashenko, a Soviet-era leader who has held power for more than a quarter-century. The dictator is digging in his heels even as Belarusians in huge numbers fill the streets week after week demanding he allow them to freely choose their President.

The daily events in Belarus, a former Soviet Republic, are worthy of a Netflix drama, full of unexpected twists, spearheaded by heroic protagonists and driven by a righteous cause.…  Seguir leyendo »

Opposition supporters hold white-red-white flags at a Minsk protest in support of Belarusian opposition activist Maria Kolesnikova. Photo by Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images

1. Acknowledge the new reality

A huge number of Belarusians across all levels of society simply no longer recognize Lukashenka as their legitimate president. The unprecedented size and persistence of protests against his regime and the sheer scale of reports of repressive actions, torture, and even murder, mean Belarus will never be the same again.

However, current paralysis in EU policy and the absence of a comprehensive US policy are both serving as a de facto licence for Lukashenka to deepen the political crisis. The sooner policymakers realize this and act with more responsibility and confidence, the quicker the increasing repression can be reversed.…  Seguir leyendo »

La filosofía marxista no es de ninguna utilidad para vaticinar el curso de la historia, pero si obviamos su aspecto mesiánico, puede servir para comprender el presente, especialmente la relación que existe entre los comportamientos políticos e ideológicos (la «superestructura») y las condiciones económicas (la «infraestructura»). Según Marx, y simplificando en extremo su pensamiento complejo, son las circunstancias económicas las que orientan las decisiones políticas e influyen en las ideas dominantes. Es discutible y simplista, pero no es necesariamente falso o, en cualquier caso, puede ser cierto en parte.

Este análisis me parece bastante oportuno actualmente en una Rusia que estalla por todas partes: en Bielorrusia, que, al contrario que Ucrania, ha sido siempre una provincia rusa (Bielorrusia solo se convirtió en un Estado en 1948 para otorgar un voto más a la URSS en la ONU); en Jabárovsk, en Siberia; y en el centro, en Moscú, con Alexéi Navalni, el adversario envenenado y némesis inalterable de Putin.…  Seguir leyendo »

Students run away from police during a protest in Minsk, Belarus, on Sept. 1. (AP)

Taking part in anti-government demonstrations has become a kind of habit for many Belarusian students, including myself. On Sept. 1, college and university students all across the country decided to mark the start of fall classes with nationwide protests — organized, as usual, via Telegram chats.

Despite the rainy weather, my classmates and I set out from our university carrying flags and banners to join the march passing through the center of Minsk. What happened next, however, came as quite a shock. What surprised us wasn’t the arrival of the riot police, who quickly surrounded the campus. It was the behavior of the university officials.…  Seguir leyendo »

Svetlana Alexiévich dedicó La guerra no tiene rostro de mujer —el primer título de su ciclo Voces de la utopía— al destino de las mujeres soviéticas que sirvieron en el frente durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, cuyo número ascendió a 800.000. Sobre ese tema solo había libros de “hombres escribiendo sobre hombres”, y sus historias diferían de las que ella había oído contar en la aldea donde creció, cuando se formaban corrillos al atardecer, a las viudas y madres de hijos sacrificados en el conflicto bélico. Sus relatos, en los que no había “héroes ni hazañas increíbles, sino humanos involucrados en una tarea inhumana”, cuestionaban las mitologías patrióticas erigidas por los hombres, en las que se silenciaba a la otra mitad.…  Seguir leyendo »

It is easy to admire the courage and determination of the Belarusian people, but the free world shouldn’t expect too much from the protests that recently filled Belarus’s streets in anger at the latest of many fixed elections. If this movement follows the path that Poland, Belarus’s next-door neighbor, took some 40 years ago, the free world is seeing just the first steps on a long, bumpy road toward democracy.

Until now, Poles had underestimated Belarusians and their desire for freedom, convinced that after 26 years of dictatorship, any resistance to their president, Alexander Lukashenko, had long been subdued. Opposition protests were simply too weak to have effect, and the government was reported to have taken ruthless revenge on Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

C’est une aspiration qui ne connaît pas de frontières. C’est elle qui avait fait tomber le rideau de fer en 1989. C’est elle qui avait fait manifester, six mois durant, les Iraniens en 2009. C’est encore elle qui avait suscité les printemps arabes de 2011 dont la force et le provisoire échec rappellent tellement le printemps européen de 1848. C’est toujours elle qui avait soulevé Hongkong avant de donner le courage aux Biélorusses de défier leur despote depuis trois semaines et cette aspiration à la liberté vient annoncer, n’en doutons pas, le réveil d’une Russie qu’on sent si lasse du retour en arrière qu’elle vit depuis trop longtemps.…  Seguir leyendo »

La revolución bielorrusa y el Kremlin

Bielorrusia (o, más correctamente, Belarús) ya es otra. El bastión del inmovilismo postsoviético, el país que parecía alérgico al cambio, ha despertado por fin. A pesar de la brutalidad de la represión, una cantidad inédita de gente se ha echado a las calles de todo el país para decir basta. Las protestas además son socialmente transversales y llegan a las fábricas y al campo, más allá de las élites urbanas. No son las primeras manifestaciones de descontento, pero sí las primeras de esta magnitud y profundidad. En los últimos años varias señales sugerían un malestar creciente e indicaban que, pese a su fama de conformista, la sociedad bielorrusa quería cambios.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester carries a former Belarusian flag during an opposition rally by the Minsk Hero City Obelisk. Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images.

Making the case

The recent election results in Belarus have triggered revolution in yet another post-Soviet country and Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s response has been devastatingly brutal. However, the Belarusian people’s resilience and Western sanctions – adopted on 14 August – have proved effective. As some of the 6,700 jailed protesters were released, accounts of horrific treatment by law enforcement emerged: overcrowded cells, no food, torture, forced confessions, severe beatings , and threats of rape.

With reports of mounting violence, Polish MEP Radosław Sikorski warned Lukashenka to expect not just sanctions but also the possible intervention of the International Criminal Court (ICC), an idea supported by the opposition-led Belarus’ National Salvation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Perder Bielorrusia está en manos de Putin

Enormes protestas se extendieron por Bielorrusia desde que Aleksandr Lukashenko afirmó fraudulentamente que había ganado con el 80 % de los votos la elección presidencial del 9 de agosto. Es posible que el futuro del país dependa ahora del presidente ruso Vladímir Putin.

Lukashenko gobierna Bielorrusia desde 1994, no le ha faltado apoyo popular e incluso recibió el apodo de Batka (padre), pero en las últimas semanas se sumaron a las protestas y huelgas enfurecidos ciudadanos de todos los sectores de la sociedad —entre ellos obreros, médicos y periodistas— y repentinamente jóvenes mujeres encabezaron la oposición. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya —la exmaestra que para muchos ganó las elecciones— no está organizando las protestas, pero su determinación canaliza el amplio descontento.…  Seguir leyendo »

For years, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been taunting Moscow. He promised that Belarus will never become part of Russia. He blamed the Kremlin for attempting to incorporate its neighbor using oil and gas leverage. Most recently, he accused Russian mercenaries of plotting “terrorism” ahead of the presidential election. Separately, he claimed that he had thwarted a Russian-orchestrated plot to foment revolution. “The puppeteers,” according to the Belarusian leader, “sat on both sides of the border.”

Now everything has changed. Facing an unprecedented popular uprising, Lukashenko has turned to Moscow for help. As his 26-year rule is rocked by massive protests and strikes, Lukashenko has called on his closest ally and principal benefactor, Vladimir Putin, to provide military support if the situation continues to escalate.…  Seguir leyendo »