Belarus: Post-Election Direction
Though the crowd in the square may seem small, wisdom dictates that one consider the environment in Belarus before dismissing anything. Dismissal is precisely what Lukashenko is banking on, both domestically and internationally. Publius Pundit (Robert Mayer) nails it.
The reason there are only a few hundred people left on the square is because those are the most fearless, most adamant demonstrators who have vowed to hold the square. Milinkevich has announced that Saturday, March 25, will be the day when everyone will return to the square. No matter what the immediate result, it will not be a finale, but the beginning of Lukashenko’s end. While the press is pessimistic on the numbers, it doesn’t go into the reasons why this is so. I’m not sure if these writers assume that Belarus is a country where people can freely organize or what, but there are many strategic factors impeding the protest.
Lukashenko has taken up a strategy rather different than that of Ukraine’s Kuchma — where the crowds were actually allowed to gather — or Uzbekistan’s Karimov — where the crowd was massacred. Instead of breaking up the protestors, he is simply blockading them. Riot police were sent to all surrounding neighborhoods to prevent anyone from joining the protest or bring the current demonstrators food. Likewise, if anyone left the protest, they’d be arrested immediately and not allowed to return. Police were also stationed at the train terminals, searching anyone who might have a tent or other materials that would help the opposition. That’s why the protest never grew to more than 7000 at time — nobody was allowed to join!
However, something can be said about the number of people trying to join...
Bingo. Now...go finish reading.